For individuals over the age of 65, cardiovascular issues are a major health concern. As many as 80% of seniors qualify for blood pressure medication. A huge fraction of seniors each year are diagnosed with heart disease and are treated for cardiovascular events.
Fortunately, heart attacks are no longer a death sentence–around 90% of individuals who go to the hospital with a myocardial infarction survive.
For many seniors, the key to avoiding a repeat heart attack is altering diet, exercise and lifestyle. Many seniors may also rely on extended care so they can ease their way back into normal levels of activity.
Here’s what you should know about care for seniors following a heart attack.
In general, it takes about eight weeks for the heart to heal from a cardiac event like a heart attack. For seniors, the time frame may be longer–especially if there are concurrent illnesses or diseases that slow the healing process. For seniors who have suffered a more severe heart attack, care and recovery needs may be higher.
During recovery, it’s important for seniors to have support and contact with friends and family. Recovery can be a scary and emotional process.
Supporting Necessary Lifestyle Changes
A heart-healthy lifestyle is absolutely vital following a heart attack. These lifestyle changes will not only help speed the recovery process, they also lower the risk of another heart attack.
First, stop smoking. Smoking is a major risk factor for heart disease and causes 1 in every 4 deaths from CVD. It raises the risk of stroke, atherosclerosis, peripheral artery disease and abdominal aortic aneurysm. Quitting smoking lowers a person’s risk of early death from heart disease and reduces the risk of repeat heart attacks.
Secondly, it’s important to exercise each day. At least 30 minutes of moderate cardiovascular exercise on most days of the week is recommended for optimal heart health.
For seniors who have suffered a heart attack, exercising can be a challenge. Lower impact exercise, like swimming, walking or water aerobics, may be a better fit for seniors with joint issues or arthritis. Programs like SilverSneakers specialize in senior-centric exercise programs.
Check out SilverSneakers programs throughout Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Next, dietary changes are often necessary following a heart attack. Changing eating habits is often the most challenging part of life after a heart attack. However, research shows that changes in diet lead to quantifiable improvements in heart health. Check out the Heart Foundation’s recommendations for diet following a cardiac event.
Finally, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Losing weight helps reduce the likelihood of a repeat heart attack.
Seek Respite Care If There’s a Need
For seniors, recovery from a heart attack may be more challenging than it is for younger people. Many seniors heal more slowly and require extra help in day to day tasks as they recover.
For family caregivers, it can be exhausting to provide the amount of care a senior may require while he or she recovers from a heart attack. Respite care is a great option in situations where caregiving duties have become too much for families to shoulder alone.
Respite care at a trusted facility provides round-the-clock supervision and assistance to seniors who need extra help while they recover. Meals, activities and medication management are also provided.
If you’re a family caregiver for a senior who has recently suffered a heart attack, respite care can provide a break when you need it, without compromising your loved one’s care.
Brookfield Senior Living of Arkansas is proud to provide assisted living and respite care services for seniors in Hot Springs, Bella Vista, Fort Smith and beyond.
Contact us today to learn more about our Arkansas senior living services.