Heart Health Blogs
Supporting your partner or loved one with poor heart health
When a partner or loved one is diagnosed with a heart condition or starts to develop signs of poor heart health, it can often fall to those closest to provide some much-needed support.
As we age the likelihood that we will experience poor heart health increases, as does the chances that we will be living with someone who has heart issues.
If you are supporting someone close to you who is living with a heart condition there are some simple steps to provide care and support, while staying healthy yourself.
Providing practical support after a heart disease diagnosis
Being diagnosed with a heart condition can be upsetting, even if current symptoms are mild.
Your partner might exhibit a range of emotions, including anger or flat-out denial. They may also feel frightened and start to withdraw from activities they enjoy, such as sports or social get-togethers.
It can be hard to know the best way to provide support, but there is help available.
Talk to the healthcare professionals
When someone is diagnosed with a heart condition, it can be a shocking and upsetting moment. Understandably, your partner may struggle to keep track of all the details. Going to appointments with your loved one and talking to their medical professional will ensure you’re both getting the right information. Some tips to consider include:
- Don’t be afraid to take notes and ask questions.
- If you don’t understand something, ask for clarification.
- Ask if there is a way to contact the doctor via email or phone if you have any follow-up questions.
Ask for extra support
In addition to the cardiologist, your partner may be able to access some allied health professionals, such as an exercise physiologist or nutritionist. These support systems can be a great asset when trying to manage your partner’s overall health and some may be covered under your private health insurance or Medicare. Ask your cardiologist or GP for guidance.
Make small changes
Following a heart disease diagnosis, it might be tempting to overhaul all of your lifestyle choices in an effort to be as healthy as possible. While maintaining regular, gentle exercise and a balanced diet is always a good idea, remember your partner may already be feeling overwhelmed. Making small changes might feel less confronting than replacing everything in the fridge with kale! Easy ways to create some health impacts include:
- Swapping out full-fat foods for lighter options
- Making easy walks a regular daily habit
- Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink
- Developing healthy sleep habits, including regular waking and bedtime
Providing emotional support after a heart disease diagnosis
Heart disease can be scary for you and your partner. This may be especially true if a loved one has had a heart attack and is coming to terms with their illness. Equally, you may have witnessed their heart event and be suffering as a result. It’s crucial for your wellbeing, and your partner’s, that you both find ways to feel supported on the journey back to good health.
Let family and friends help
If your partner is navigating medical appointments, or treatment means they need more rest than usual, you may need some extra help. This might include letting friends or family:
- do the grocery shopping
- walk the dog
- clean the house
- be a designated driver for appointments
- sit with your loved one to give you a break.
It can be hard to talk about heart health issues when they arise. One of you might want to go into detail and ask questions, while the other might not. Here are some tips about how to be there for your partner.
- If your partner doesn’t want to talk, let them know you are there if they ever do.
- Instead of using phrases such as ‘You should talk about this”, or “You need to try and move on” try saying things like “I’d like to be there for you if you want to talk” or “I’ve noticed you’re looking sad”.
- Don’t feel guilty for needing someone to talk to. A counsellor or psychologist can provide a private space for you to work through how you’re feeling. Ask your GP for a referral.
Dealing with the really tricky topics
When a loved one’s health is on the line, relationships can change, especially if you take on the role of carer. It can be hard to adjust when aspects of your life change, especially when it comes to sex or intimacy.
Other hard topics to tackle might include a serious prognosis and the future.
Being open and honest about how you’re feeling, and what’s happening at home, will help to keep communication as a priority.
Find more information at www.advarahealthcare.com on all things heart health
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Talk to your GP about local and national resources that can help you improve your heart health and help prevent heart disease.