Heart failure is a global disease, commonly, of seniors 65 years old and up. In a report the American Heart Association released, approximately 5.7 million Americans live with heart disease or failure. It is among the reasons why these elderlies go to the hospital for confinement.
Since this ailment greatly affects a lot of older adults, it is essential for a caregiver to have full awareness of the symptoms of heart failure. It is essential, too, to discover the ways to help them remain active and still enjoy their lives to the fullest.
Heart Failure: What is It and What are its Symptoms?
Medical experts describe heart failure or heart attack as the weakening of the left side of the heart. It is also the inability to pump enough blood efficiently as it is expected to do. One common type of this disease is congenital heart failure or CHF. The moment the heart rhythms turn inefficient when pumping, the kidneys are responding by causing retention of salt and water in the body.
A common type is congestive heart failure (CHF). When the heart isn’t pumping well, the kidneys respond by causing the body to retain water and salt. And when the fluid starts to build up, the body turns congested, that’s what it is named for — congestive heart failure.
The body relies on the heart for the delivery of nutrients and oxygen via the blood for the cells’ nourishment. This then, allows a person’s body to function normally. When heart failure occurs, the weakened heart cannot function as a source of enough blood for the cell.
This results in shortness of breath, occasional coughing, and fatigue. Daily activities such as climbing stairs, carrying shopping bags or groceries or walking can be quite difficult when one has coronary artery disease. Also, all types of heart failure are severe conditions, and there’s typically no cure. However, it is manageable by medication, changes in a healthy lifestyle, surgery or heart transplantation.
Common Symptoms of this ailment
A single heart failure sign might not be reason enough for you to worry. You notice some symptoms even if the senior does not have a history of a heart ailment. However, it is still ideal to ask their doctor to assess their heart, as well as their overall health.
The multiple symptoms occur when the heart experiences the following:
- Shortness of breath – this means a person is having difficulty breathing as he lies flat
- Persistent wheezing or coughing – this means coughing with pink or white mucus
- Fluid buildup in the body also known as edema – this is the swelling of the feet, legs, ankles or abdomen or weight gain
- Fatigue – constantly tired feeling and having difficulty attending to daily activities
- Loss of appetite – feeling full all the time even if there is no food consumption yet
- Impaired thinking, confusion – you’ll notice the senior feeling disoriented or having some memory loss
- Rising heart right – here the elderly feels like his heart is throbbing or racing
5 Ways to Show Your Support to Seniors with Heart Ailment
- Following orders from the doctor and searching for more information about heart ailment allows you to help an elderly enjoy his life to the fullest. The senior should see how knowledgeable you are about his ailment. This way, he will have confidence in you and will follow you.
- Ensuring proper and timely taking of medication according to prescription, monitor possible side effects, and report negative impacts to the doctor the soonest possible. Updating the doctor will avoid possible worsening of heart disease.
- Link the older adults with emotional support sources such as heart failure support organizations, therapists, or social workers as they are all helpful to the caregivers, as well. Working together as a team will provide the senior with all the help he needs.
- Prevent serious health conditions such as pneumonia and flu with yearly vaccines. This will help to avoid possible complications of the heart ailment.
- Take palliative care into consideration to help in the management of symptoms; seek advice too, when making a tough decision.
How to Help a Senior with Heart Disease Live Life to the Fullest
As a family member or caregiver, to help a senior with heart ailment improve his or her lifestyle, it is vital that the patient is well-informed about his illness and how to cure it. It also helps to keep him, or her reminded of the necessary things he should do. Consider doing the following:
- Constantly remind the person to take his medicine.
Seemingly, this is obvious. However, with heart disease, this may be crucial. The sooner the patient can handle it, the better.
Some of the Recommended Medicines to take:
- ACE inhibitors to help relax the blood vessels for the blood pressure to lower, not to mention the reduction of the load on the heart.
- Beta-blockers to slow the heart rate and lower the blood pressure
- Digoxin which strengthens the force of the constructions of the heart muscles
- Diuretics, also known as the water pills
- ARBs or the Angiotensin receptor blockers which relax the blood vessels, making it easier for the heart to function
- Have him, or she engages in a health care team.
Talking to the doctor regularly, specifically a cardiologist, pacemaker specialist, and a sarcoidosis specialist, helps. Be sure to have the said specialists’ email addresses and other contact details so you can ask questions in-between visits.
- Encourage regular exercise.
Exercise, like moving around or going for a walk, is essential. The patient may need to start slowly and he may quickly get tired. There are some elderlies with heart failure who find awkwardness in exercise. If these people allow a day where they engage in too much work, it won’t hurt their hearts or make their hearts suffer and fail faster.