When your family member is diagnosed with heart disease or has been sent to the emergency room several times due to a stroke, it means your loved one requires a caregiver. If you are the one who will take on this role, then you should thoroughly prepare for any situation. You should support them emotionally and be there for practical things such as medication, exercise, diet, and monitoring symptoms. If this is new to you and you don’t know how to prepare for this role, take a look at several following steps and you will be in control of the whole situation.
Introduce A New Diet
One of the causes of heart issues is a poor diet which consists of irregular meals and food with low nutritional value. It’s hard to switch to a healthier diet because fast food is highly addictive. Avoid processed food because of its high levels of sugar and white carbohydrates.
Make meals less salty and don’t put artificial seasoning. Introduce them to more vegetables and fruit and less meat and dairy. Even though they may experience hunger at the beginning, it is just the body adjusting to a new diet. They may feel upset or even angry due to these changes, so try this new chapter together.
Encourage Regular Exercise
This depends on the condition of your family member. Firstly, consult with their doctor before making any plans. They need to do many tests on their physical endurance, so they deduce what could be beneficial for them.
It is recommended to start with baby steps. Walk once or twice a week and ask them if they feel comfortable at this pace. If they are up for it and feel they can do more, introduce strength exercises. Any physical movement keeps the heart healthy. Join them in their daily activities to motivate and encourage progress.
Prepare For Emergencies
Emergencies are part of this and you should always be ready for worst-case scenarios. Your mum, dad, or grandma completely relies on you. That is a huge responsibility, so educate yourself on ways to react properly in medical emergencies. You can get an ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) certification and do everything online, without disturbing your daily obligations. You will be able to provide the best medical assistance when they are having serious heart issues. Of course, calling the emergency team is a must so they get monitored later on. However, your help first thing can save a life.
Provide Emotional Support
Sleepless nights, waking up early to give them medication, and meal preparation is nothing compared to how mentally strong you need to be. You need to take care of their mental health but also yours. If you can’t be there for yourself, you won’t be fully present for a family member who needs constant care.
You both will have good and bad days. This is a new situation and it is normal to react in different ways. Talk to each other and express how you feel at the moment. It will clear your head and give you a fresh start. With a heart diagnosis, they are in shock and can sometimes feel sad or even depressed. Show them you are always there to support them and that you understand their emotions.
After the doctor created a medication plan, get a pillbox to keep track of daily intake. If they don’t suffer from dementia, give them the control to take pills. They will have a sense of purpose and won’t feel like they are not in control of their life. However, keep in mind some people don’t take their medicine because they feel they don’t need it. Talk to them and explain why it is essential to take this seriously.
To look after someone with heart disease is far from easy. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would cope with this new information. It can give you a different perspective on your role as a caregiver. Be involved in their journey and tell them you are there to support them every step. Your relationship may have its ups and downs but it is a part of the process.