Creative Home Care for Elderly Heart Disease Patients

June 17, 2015

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with heart disease, you’ve probably also gotten the message to exercise more, stop smoking, switch to a low-fat diet and start working harder to connect in your community.

Your healthcare team’s protocol for diet, exercise, medication, healthy habits and more makes perfect sense . . . . until it comes to actually implementing it.

These insights derived from service providers for home care for elderly heart disease patients can help you and/or a loved one maximize the years ahead. Feeling better lies in understanding just why old habits are so difficult to break, addressing these underlying emotion-based resistance and putting together a realistic plan to implement.

Behind the Resistance to the Low-Fat Diet

Complex issues often underlie any senior’s reluctance to eat a diet of mostly fruits and vegetables with little seasoning or butter. First and foremost, change is hard and most acknowledge that giving up favorites like butter and salt stinks! More days and experiences with the grandkids and other loved ones, however, can make this sacrifice more tolerable.

Keep in mind, too, that with age comes a decline in the sense of taste and smell, rendering some food unappealing. A reduction in eyesight alters food’s colors and textures. The gradual progression may have even gone unnoticed by the senior. New smells, tastes and appearances DO NOT help a senior change to foods he or she has purposely avoided for decades. When the senior, the provider of home care for elderly heart patients and family members fully understand what to expect and the impact of the challenges ahead, they can have more patience and strategy tackling them.

The altered nature of food isn’t the only obstacle to the adoption of a low-fat diet, however. With eating traditionally such a social opportunity, the loss of friends and independence can change mealtimes drastically. Familiar foods, often high in fat in carbohydrates, provide comfort and pleasurable memories to anyone, seniors included. Not only do doctors ask heart disease patients to give up their most pleasurable tastes, but the interface with these memories as well. Mom or dad gets crabby with a kale salad on the place mat? No wonder . . .

To counter these often unconscious forces, home care for elderly heart patient caregivers, neighbors and family members must work a little harder to get the heart disease sufferer to eat for a longer life. They can bring new meanings to new, healthier meals. Experts recommend dressing up the table or moving it to a fun or sunny location, even outdoors when gearing up to present a new dish. Playing a card game, having grandchildren or neighbors join new healthy meals also create positive associations with the new meal plan.

Behind the Resistance to Exercise

The doctors and nurses promote it. Every television health show urges it. Why, then, do seniors sometimes resist engaging in regular exercise? That’s a question the adult children of our senior clients ask us often.

It’s important to remember that regular exercise only gained widespread popularity with the baby boomer generation, many of whom act as today’s senior caregivers. The baby boomers’ parents, called the “Mature/Silents” or “The Greatest Generation” (thanks to Tom Brokaw’s bestseller), may not be as indoctrinated into the exercise fad as their adult children are. Remember that change is difficult for anyone. Your loved one is engaging in an activity that might not only be unfamiliar but also changes their daily routine and can be physically challenging. That can cause a lot of anxiety! When adult children or home care for elderly caregivers keep an empathetic perspective in mind, they approach the exercise issue with more understanding and are more successful.

Resistance from Mood

Seniors lose mobility, cognitive ability, independence, friends and more every day. The losses that come with aging and heart disease can torpedo mood. While some days, seniors feel well despite their challenges, other days can be rough. Anxiety and/or depression descend, and although seniors work hard to maintain a positive mood, that effort can be draining, too.  

Loved ones and in home care for elderly providers cannot cure the disease or the decline aging brings, but they can get the senior to talk about the issues related to both. The presence of the caregiver alone can reduce stress, increase the odds that the health plan will be followed and simply provide the companionship that’s proven to boost health. Senior caregivers and family can also get the heart disease patient talking through an organization called Mended Hearts. This community-based support group for heart patients and their caregivers provides activities and support groups. With 20,000 members active in scores of cities, the organization runs a tight ship! Call 888-432-7899 for information about a nearby chapter.

Start Smart!

To overcome obstacles, improve opportunity for success and engage in a safe program, it’s important for loved ones and caregivers to determine the senior’s current physical status, when was the last time they actually exercised and if there were any complications. Make sure to honestly assess their physical ability to participate in exercise and any limitations they might have. Before engaging in any type of increase in physical exercise a senior should consult a physician for an assessment and advice regarding acceptable activities and restrictions.

An elderly person may feel afraid to move around strenuously, particularly if they’ve recently fallen or been unable to physically complete a task. The presence of a caregiver or loved one during exercise may reassure the senior. It also provides a social aspect that encourages the senior to venture beyond their comfort zone.

Add a social enticement, too, when you hook up with walking groups like “silver sneakers” or exercise classes through the nearby community centers. Senior caregivers can search for community pools that have senior water aerobics classes and even senior-only hours.

Explore Your Options for In Home Care for Elderly Heart Disease Patients

Finding competent, experienced in home care for elderly heart disease patients can be stressful. At My Care Match, you are free to search through caregivers with experience treating those with heart disease. In fact, qualified caregivers will come to you when you fill out a profile on My Care Match. Some caregivers have completed entire training programs around the management of heart disease in seniors. Providers of in home care for elderly citizens can accompany seniors on walks, to the grocery store and even for meals. The best caregivers understand the importance of creating fresh, fun meals that help clients understand the exciting flavors low-fat meals deliver. More, accustomed to following healthcare instructions for heart patients and those with chronic heart failure, caregivers check in frequently with loved ones and family members. Click the link above to get started or contact us with any questions you may have.

About the Author

Doug Breuer is co-founder of and has worked in senior care for the last 9 years for the State of Oregon. From investigating cases of elder abuse to managing the delivery of long term care to residents of Central Oregon, Doug has been involved in all aspects of senior care.

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