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4 Healthy Living Tips for Caring for Someone with a Heart Condition
I know from experience how much of a transition—and a learning curve—becoming a caregiver entails. It can be especially hard if the person you’re caring for has a heart condition.
Caregiving can feel like an overwhelming responsibility. Not only are you likely adjusting to having a new person in your home, but you also have to factor caretaking responsibilities into your life. Sometimes, you might feel like you are just “getting through” each day. But you can do so much more than help your loved one pass the time—you can help improve his or her quality of life.
In conjunction with your doctor’s orders, here are four healthy living tips for caring for someone with a heart condition:
1. Tailor exercise to their ability
Your loved one may not be able to do the recommended 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly. Yet, in most cases, older adults can work activity into their lives. The key is tailoring activities to your loved one’s needs and abilities. A walk around the block may be an accomplishment for some, while others will be able to go on a longer stroll each evening.
Also, join in. Everyone benefits from social interaction—including you. After your loved one exercises, ask how she feels. Chances are, she’ll notice some positive physical changes after just a week or two of moving more. Encourage but don’t push, and always be sure to follow doctor’s orders when it comes to physical exertion.
2. Get social
Research shows that seniors who are more social stay healthier. One study of over 14,000 adults found that seniors with “greater social capital”—living in a trusting community with helpful neighbors—were more physically mobile. In addition to welcoming your loved one into your family life, take him out on social outings. Going out to lunch, a community event or a park are just a few examples. Encourage him to participate in a local senior center, take up a new hobby or even join a water aerobics class. The more your loved one gets out, the more likely he is to remain vital into his older years.
3. Eat well
If your loved one has a heart condition, a balanced diet is a necessary part of supporting heart health. But no one wants to be the only one at the table eating a “special” meal. Instead of preparing separate food, get your entire family eating well. Prepare heart-healthy dishes like “Kale Walnut Pesto Pasta with Salmon,” and enjoy them with your loved one.
4. Eat less frequently and get creative
Since digestive efficiency decreases with age, your loved one should eat smaller portions more frequently than she did in her younger years. Increase nutrition during meals by making easy-to-digest juices, shakes and smoothies. Add greens, chia seeds and protein powder to increase the nutrient content without making much difference in taste. Adding targeted nutritional supplements like a multivitamin, vitamin D and Omega-3 fish oil can also help support wellness.
What healthy living tips would you add for caring for a loved one with a heart condition?