Heart attack survivors often continue to live for many more years, but their lives may be forever changed. Typically, depending on the severity of the damage to the heart, seniors over 65 years of age can expect at least 8 weeks of recovery time, but older adults may be more inclined to complications, as well, which creates additional downtime.
Depression, anger, and fear affect about one-fourth of aging adults after a heart attack. Fortunately, as regular activities are resumed, these effects tend to go away. Encourage your aging loved one to get some rest and a good night of sleep, but to also get back to normal hobbies, and to be sure to share feelings with someone – a family member, friend, clergyman or support group.
The first week home after a heart attack, the patient will probably feel tired and weak. That’s because a heart attack damages the heart muscle. In addition, bed rest in the hospital creates weakness. It’s important for the older loved one to follow the doctor’s specific advice, but typically a patient is expected to get dressed daily and take care of his or her bathing or personal hygiene. In order to regain strength, energy, and stamina, daily walks will usually be prescribed by the physician, as well as an incremental return to household duties like cooking, cleaning, and laundry. The aging adult will need to learn energy-conserving techniques with no lifting, pushing, or pulling of heavy objects until the doctor approves.
A heart-healthy diet will be advised, often with some restrictions. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes are recommended, with a small number of high-quality protein foods. Complex carbohydrates will help with energy and simple carbs and sugars are best avoided.
Medications that will prevent future blood clots, improve heart performance, and aid in recovery must be taken as directed. Sometimes, prescriptions are given to adjust irregular heartbeats, lower blood pressure, or control discomfort. Regardless of what the medicines are for, the proper dosage needs to be taken on time as prescribed, and sometimes with food or on an empty stomach.
There may be many lifestyle changes and adjustments after a loved one has a heart attack. Comfort Keepers® can help. Professionally trained caregivers can provide transportation to doctor appointments, light housekeeping, meal preparation, and companionship that can benefit the older adult physically, mentally and emotionally while continuing to live independently at home. Call us today to learn about how we can help during a post-heart attack recovery.
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