FINDING SUCCESS IN CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE: TIPS FOR CHF AND AGING ADULTS

Adapting to Congestive Heart Failure

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is estimated to affect more than 5 million aging Americans and perhaps your loved one too. And while the diagnosis may leave you feeling intimidated, the name is a bit of a misnomer—the heart has not, in fact, “failed” but rather is putting in more effort in order to effectively pump blood throughout the body. This diminished capacity to pump blood can come from an overall weakened heart, a defect, or a number of other factors. And while maintaining consistent communication with your medical professional is paramount, there are many ways you can support and encourage your loved ones towards healthy habits in order to lead a full life with CHF.

limiting

liquids

For many Americans, the encouragement to constantly hydrate is never-ending. However, for loved ones with CHF, hydration is still important but in a uniquely managed way. As the heart works harder to pump blood to the body, the kidneys likewise may have a diminished capacity. In CHF adults, over-hydration then can cause a build-up of fluids in the body which will limit your loved one’s overall health. The recommended fluid intake for a CHF adult is roughly 64 ounces (8 cups) of fluids a day. It is important to note that “fluids” are considered your conventional beverages (water, juice, soda) as well as foods that have a high liquid content (popsicles, soup, gelatin treats).

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water

quenching

thirst

Many professionals contend the best way to help a loved one manage their fluids is two-fold. First, is helping your loved create a routine and schedule of spacing out their fluids throughout the day. Quite often, fluid tracking fits nicely with any other medicine or nutrition tracking already in use. Something as simple as a whiteboard on the fridge or marked water bottles and pitchers can empower your aging family member to stay on track with fluid schedules throughout the day.

implementing

strategies

  • Eating or sucking on hard candy or gum
  • Snacking on frozen fruits such as grapes
  • Flavoring ice cubes with drops of lemon or lime as treats

implementing

strategies

  • Eating or sucking on hard candy or gum
  • Snacking on frozen fruits such as grapes
  • Flavoring ice cubes with drops of lemon or lime as treats

evolving

nutrition needs

While managing fluid intake is key for people with CHF, it goes hand-and-hand with nutrition alteration and management as well. Sodium is a key factor in the diet of someone with CHF, particularly because of the way sodium affects retention and processing of fluids in the body. Moreover, a higher intake of salt will increase thirst and thus encourage your loved one to exceed their goal liquid amounts. General recommendations suggest that an adult with CHF limits their sodium consumption to roughly 1,500 – 2,000 mg a day. This is best achieved by mindful nutrition decisions and planning.

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keeping things

moving

As is true in most aging adults, an appropriate amount of exercise or movement can help dramatically in managing CHF. Movement and/or exercise will continue to strengthen your loved one’s body (which will reduce the demands on their heart) while also managing their weight as well.  Additionally, routine movement can decrease a loved one’s overall stress, which proves effective in lessening the strain on their cardiovascular system. For some aging adults, the idea of conventional movement or exercise can be daunting, so it can be helpful to reframe creatively what movement could look like in their life. Most doctors agree that 30 minutes of movement a day can help keep people with CHF maintain a healthy lifestyle.

FINDING SUCCESS WITHIN CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE

For many families, hearing that a loved one has CHF could feel overwhelming. And at Beverly’s Daughter, we exist to navigate that journey with you. Connect with your loved one’s cardiologist for recommended diet, fluid and medication plans for the best management of the CHF. Send us those lifestyle goals and we will contact you within 48 hours with customized ways to implement any diet, fluid or movement plans.  We would love to partner with you and your loved one as they lead successful, full lives with CHF.

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