How to Provide Care at Home Following a Heart Attack
A heart attack is a medical emergency that can be fatal. The medical name for a heart attack is a myocardial infarction, and it occurs when the blood supply to the heart becomes blocked. The NHS provides some detailed information on heart attacks if you would like more information.
If an elderly relative suffers a heart attack, it can be very distressing for them and for you. Not only can the heart attack be very painful and a terrifying experience, but after they return home they will require a lot of care.
So what do you have to know about providing them with the care they need?
Length of Recovery Time after a heart attack
First of all, it’s important to recognise that the recovery time can be long after someone suffers a heart attack, especially where elderly people are concerned. The older a person is, the more likely they are to suffer complications.
The length of time to recover will also depend on how severe the attack was and how much muscle has been damaged, and it could take several months before your relative is back to normal.
Recovery should be focused on restoring physical fitness, which is known as cardiac rehabilitation, as well as taking steps to prevent it from happening again.
Gentle Exercise to help with recovery from a heart attack
After returning home, your relative will need time to recover, which will include lots of rest. As they start to get stronger, you can help them to take very light activities, such as walking around the house and going gently up and down the stairs.
After a while, you can start to increase their activity level. This could involve gentle walks outside, and this could then turn into faster walking and gentle activities like swimming.
Reduce the Risk of Future Heart Attacks
Preventing future heart attacks should also be a key goal, and there may be lifestyle changes you can help with. If your relative’s diet is poor or they are overweight, you can concentrate on improving it by helping them to prepare healthy meals containing lots of fibre, fruit, vegetables, fish and fresh ingredients.
If they currently smoke, do everything you can to encourage them to stop, and you may also want to help them cut down on the amount of alcohol they drink if necessary.
Look Out for Signs of Depression
Depression is another thing to look out for following a heart attack. When a heart attack occurs, it can cause a lot of anxiety and emotional stress, especially in the following weeks, and this can lead to depression. Look out for signs that your relative may be depressed, and speak to their doctor if you notice that they are down a lot.
Looking after an elderly relative who has suffered a heart attack can be difficult for you as well. They will need a lot of care and attention, and you may have other commitments. If you decide to engage a care worker, make sure they are trained in looking after people with health conditions.
Our care workers look after many clients with health problems, making sure they eat a healthy meal and take their medicines, as well as providing them with support and helping them to get out and about.
Looking for further information online regarding heart attacks and heart health? One of the best resources is the British Heart Foundation website. This page on the website provides a number of excellent resources where you can get further information, so start here.