Information and Support to Care For Your Aging Parent

Finding Success in Congestive Heart Failure

Older man being pushed in wheelchair.

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is estimated to affect more than 5 million aging Americans. The diminished capacity to pump blood can come from an overall weakened heart, a defect, or several other factors. While maintaining consistent communication with a medical professional and ensuring your aging parent is taking medications as prescribed is paramount, there are many ways we can support and encourage our loved ones at home towards healthy habits after a CHF diagnosis.

Limiting Liquids

It is important our aging parent diagnosed with COPD limit their fluids intake. The first step is to help them 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 monitoring already in use. Something as simple as a whiteboard on the fridge or marked water bottles and pitchers can empower an 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

Evolving Nutrition Needs

While managing fluid intake is vital for people with CHF, it goes hand-and-hand with nutrition alteration and management as well. Sodium is a critical factor in the diet of someone with CHF, mainly because of the way sodium affects the retention and processing of fluids in the body. Moreover, a higher intake of salt will increase thirst and encourage our loved ones to exceed their liquid amounts. General recommendations suggest that an adult with CHF limits their sodium consumption to roughly 1,500 – 2,000 mg a day. Conscious nutrition decisions and planning best achieve this. Their doctor will most likely refer them to work with a dietician.  Attending these meetings will allow you to stay informed of restrictions and encourage your parent towards healthy habits.

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 exercise will continue to strengthen our loved ones’ bodies (which will reduce the demands on their heart) while managing their weight. Additionally, routine movement can decrease a loved one’s overall stress, proving helpful in lessening the strain on their cardiovascular system. For some aging adults, the idea of normal 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 activity a day can help people with CHF maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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