Caring for Your Loved One After a Heart Attack
February is Heart Health Month. In the United States, heart disease is the #1 killer of men and women. In fact, cardiovascular diseases, led by coronary artery disease, are responsible for more deaths than all types of cancer combined.
Heart disease can occur at any age, but as people get older, their risk of serious cardiovascular disease events increases. If you or a loved one has suffered a heart attack recently, read on. Below are some important suggestions about how to manage the recovery process.
- Following a heart attack, your loved one may feel vulnerable and fearful. His or her emotions are likely to be stronger and more dramatic after facing this serious health event. This is the time to listen and be patient. Really listen. Stay positive but acknowledge your loved one’s fears and concerns. Avoid bringing up any guilt related to your loved one “allowing” this to happen. Nobody wants to have a heart attack and nobody wants to hear blame for provoking cardiovascular disease or a heart attack.
- Seek clarification from medical staff. Arrive with questions and take notes on the responses. You need to take on the role of health care advocate for your loved one. Notice behavior changes, ask questions, and make sure you clearly understand the medications and therapy prescribed. In addition, take this time to figure out what changes need to be made going forward. Will you need to help your loved one change his or her eating habits, daily activities, cigarette habits, and/or overall lifestyle?
- Evaluate level of care required. Working with the medical staff and rehabilitation specialists, determine what level of care is needed for your loved one in the short-term and long-term. He or she may simply need to manage medications and change his or her lifestyle or he or she may need dependable help.
- After the medical appointment, support your loved one in making changes to habits, activities, food or drink, and lifestyle. Work with the medical staff to prevent any further complications. Be aware that roles may change temporarily…or even permanently. Work with these changes and support your loved one. If your loved one is not eager to make the necessary changes, avoid shaming. Do your best to support him or her and consult medical professionals or therapists for help.
- Focus on the future. Allow your loved one the necessary time to come to terms with his or her health and the changes that he or she will need to make going forward. And then, start living again. Plan a small activity out of the house. Enjoy a movie together. Spend time with friends. Take a class. Plan a vacation. Allow you and your loved one to start living again.
- Join a support group to help you cope with the new challenges that you are facing while helping your loved one recover. Consider accepting some hands-on help or simply go to meetings to talk and socialize with others who are in similar situations.
- As a caregiver, you need to take proper care of yourself. So, in addition to the medical and therapy appointments you arrange for your loved one, you must schedule some personal time every day to take a walk, read a book, or just relax and watch a movie. Give yourself permission to do things either alone or with friends. When you’re taking care of a loved one, it’s critical to give yourself downtime so you don’t become stressed or overwhelmed
Do you have questions about caring for a loved one who recently suffered a heart attack? Expicare may be able to help. Contact us at 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit www.expicare.com.
Expicare Nursing, Inc.
Owned and managed by highly qualified Registered Nurses, Expicare is a recognized leader of home health care in South Florida. For over three decades, Expicare has provided unparalleled home health care to thousands of patients throughout Palm Beach County. From post-surgery assistance to compassionate care for patients and families struggling with Alzheimer’s, Expicare provides highly skilled nurses and nursing assistants to care for your parents or loved ones. For more information, contact 561-736-1422, toll-free: 855-730-9895, or visit www.expicare.com.