8 Tips For People Caring For the Elderly With Heart Disease
Caring for an elderly loved one with heart disease can be challenging if you’re not on top of their health plan and schedules. Ensuring you are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to give them the care they deserve is crucial. Which is where BLS certification becomes an asset. With this certification, you become more confident with the knowledge of the latest protocol for life-saving and improved attitude towards CPR performance.
In this article, we’ll provide you with practical tips you can use when caring for the elderly suffering from heart disease.
Follow Medication Schedules
You must always follow the elderly’s medication schedules. It’ll help them manage their condition effectively and prevent complications. It’ll help control their blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots, and keep their heart functioning if taken as directed.
Start by ensuring that your elderly loved one has access to all of their prescribed medications and that they understand how and when to take them.
Always read the labels on the medications carefully and follow the instructions given by the healthcare provider. Some medications may need to be taken with food, while others may require taking on an empty stomach.
Also, consider setting up a medication reminder system to help them remember when to take their medication. This could be a pill dispenser or a simple reminder alarm on their phone or watch. Check-in regularly to ensure they follow their medication schedule and take the correct dosage.
Notify their healthcare provider if there are any side effects to the medication; if they change, you’ll have to notify them again carefully of anything that changes.
Failing to take medications properly is dangerous. Follow them to the tee and help your loved one keep their health.
Encourage A Healthy Diet
Encouraging a healthy diet is one of the most important things you can do to support your elderly loved one with heart disease. A heart-healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. The diet should also have less sodium, added sugars, and saturated fat.
If they’re not used to eating these foods, introduce them gradually. Begin with tasty vegetables or berries, leafy greens, and potatoes. Experimenting with new recipes is also great for keeping the novelty going: grilling, steaming, and baking.
By making healthy eating fun and enjoyable, you can encourage your loved one to stick to a heart-healthy diet long-term. Keep in mind that small changes over time can positively impact overall health.
Explain to them the importance of reading food labels and selecting foods with lower sodium and saturated fat content. You can also help them choose healthy snacks, such as nuts, seeds, and fruit, instead of high-calorie and high-fat options.
Hydrating fruits and vegetables can help keep your loved one hydrated. Offer fruits such as watermelon, oranges, and grapes and vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers.
And that also leads us to our next point.
Keep Them Hydrated
And never forget to remind them to drink plenty of water. Diuretics such as caffeine and alcohol can increase urine output and lead to dehydration. Encourage your loved one to limit their intake of these beverages or avoid them altogether.
Keep track of your loved one's fluid intake and ensure they are getting enough. A good rule of thumb is to aim for 8 cups (64 ounces) of fluid daily, which may vary depending on individual needs.
Drinking water can sometimes be boring, so make it enjoyable by infusing it with fresh fruits or herbs. You can also offer flavored water or low-sugar sports drinks.
Electrolytes such as sodium and potassium play a role in hydration, so it's important to consider electrolyte balance. Encourage your loved one to eat foods rich in electrolytes, such as bananas, avocados, and sweet potatoes.
Some medications can cause dehydration as a side effect. Be mindful of any medications your loved one takes and consult their healthcare provider if necessary.
Monitor Blood Pressure
Invest in a home blood pressure monitor. A home blood pressure monitor can be a valuable tool for monitoring blood pressure at home. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate type of monitor. and how to use it correctly. You can use the skills learned from BLS certification to use the device to monitor blood pressure correctly.
A good way to use them is by checking their blood pressure regularly, or at least as frequently as your healthcare professional has advised. It’ll help you identify changes in blood pressure that require adjustments in treatment.
You can also keep a log of blood pressure readings on your computer, especially when they change over time. Record the date and time of each reading and any factors that may affect blood pressure, such as medication changes or stress levels.
Know the target blood pressure range healthcare professionals recommend, and aim to keep blood pressure within that range. This can help reduce the risk of complications associated with high blood pressure.
Help Them Stay Active
Even if they’re elderly, humans should always stay physically active. It helps control blood pressure, reduce the risk of blood clots, and improve heart function.
To do so, encourage your loved one to engage in different types of physical activity, such as walking, cycling, swimming, and stretching. This can help prevent boredom and ensure they get a well-rounded workout.
When you start with slow activities and progress gradually, you’ll prevent injury and avoid overwhelming pressure on your loved one. Start with shorter and less intense activities and gradually increase the duration and intensity.
Making exercise and physical activity a group effort can motivate them to participate more. You can also suggest activities your loved one enjoys, such as gardening or dancing.
Set realistic goals together and track progress to stay motivated. Celebrate small achievements along the way to keep spirits high.
Consistency is key when it comes to physical activity. Encourage your loved one to make it a habit by scheduling regular times for physical activity and sticking to it.
Stress worsens heart disease symptoms and also increases the risk of complications. Managing it properly is key, but how can you do so more efficiently?
Encouraging relaxation techniques: breathing, meditation, yoga, or tai chi. These activities help lower stress and promote relaxation.
Plan activities that your loved one enjoys together, such as walking, playing games, or listening to music.
Remember that mess makes stress: help them create a peaceful environment by ensuring their living space is clean, organized, and clutter-free. You can also incorporate calming elements such as plants or candles.
Support social connections: Social connections can help reduce stress and promote a positive mood. Encourage your loved one to stay connected with family and friends, and consider joining social groups or clubs.
And finally, help them establish a regular sleep schedule and create a comfortable sleep environment. It’ll help reduce stress and motivate them to wake up with more energy.
Keep An Emergency Plan in Place
Identify emergency contacts: Identify emergency contacts such as healthcare providers, family members, and neighbors who can assist in an emergency. Make sure to have their phone numbers easily accessible.
Prepare an emergency kit: An emergency kit with essential items such as medications, medical records, a list of emergency contacts, and important documents such as insurance cards and legal documents. Keep the kit in a convenient and easily accessible location.
Know the warning signs: Know the warning signs of a heart attack or other cardiovascular emergencies, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fainting. If your loved one experiences these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.
Create a plan for transportation: Create a plan for transportation in case of an emergency, such as arranging for a ride or having a backup mode of transportation. Make sure to account for any mobility issues or limitations.
Consider a medical alert system: Consider a medical alert system that can alert emergency services. This can be especially useful for elderly people living alone or at a higher risk of complications.
Review and update the plan regularly: Review and update the emergency plan regularly to ensure it is up-to-date and reflects any changes in your loved one's health status or living situation.
Offer Emotional Support
Often forgotten is the importance of being supportive to your loved one. Some believe caring for the elderly with heart disease is exhausting and might even lash out at them.
Be patient and understanding: Your loved one deserves your care and empathy.
Empathy involves putting yourself in your loved one's shoes and imagining their feelings. Validate their feelings and let them know that their emotions are valid and normal. If you don’t live with them, offer practical assistance such as help with household chores, grocery shopping, or transportation. This can help alleviate stress and free up time for your loved one to focus on their health.
BLS Certification teaches how to connect the elderly with support resources: groups, online forums, and counseling services. These resources can provide additional emotional support and help your loved one feel less alone in their journey.
Managing heart disease can be challenging, and your loved one may experience setbacks or frustrations.
Be patient and understanding, and offer support and encouragement throughout their journey.
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