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Keeping Loved Ones’ Depression at Bay Post-Heart Attack or Stroke

February is "Healthy Heart" month which is the perfect month for seniors to think about just how healthy their hearts may be. Each year, nearly 2 million Americans suffer from a heart attack or stroke—and the majority of these patients are over 65. With more and more seniors choosing to remain at home into their later years, the reality of caring for loved ones after a heart attack or stroke is on the rise—and can potentially bring on a host of social, emotional and general wellbeing hurdles for caregivers.

Bouncing back from a heart attack or stroke is rooted in restrictive, significant day-to-day changes, from food and diet to exercise, mobility and often independence. A lengthy recovery period, paired with these seemingly overwhelming lifestyle shifts—gone are the favorite foods, high-stress activities, unhealthy habits and, potentially, some level of freedom—can create an unparalleled breeding ground for agitation, anxiety and even depression.

Creating a positive environment, keeping loved ones integrated in family and social activities and, above all, watching for warning signs of depression in the weeks and months that follow a heart attack or stroke will ensure a strong, forward-moving recovery and long-term success.

Here are some of the warning signs of depression which can include:

  • Feelings of helplessness or hopelessness

  • Lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed

  • Appetite or weight changes

  • Sleep changes, including insomnia, waking in the early morning hours, or oversleeping

  • Feeling anxious and restless or feeling sluggish and physically slowed down

  • Strong feelings of worthlessness or harsh criticism of perceived faults and mistakes

  • Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things

Everyone should keep in mind that, for elderly family members and friends, the recovery process can be equally challenging and wrought with emotion and even feelings of helplessness. Integrating and coordinating professional support from the individual's doctor, physical therapist, nutritionist and even an in-home care company like AAging Better, in the critical period following a heart attack or stroke ensures a smoother recovery period for both loved ones and their caregivers. It is a much more comprehensive approach to whole-patient "well care," designed to combat common depression pitfalls after someone has had a heart attack or stroke.

AAging Better understands that all seniors want to remain independent in their homes for as long as possible, even more so after significant life events like a heart attack or stroke. For the past 12 years, AAging Better has been the go-to home care provider for many north Idaho families and seniors.

To find out more about how we can assist you or a loved one remain safely at home when managing the serious consequences of heart attacks or strokes, contact us today to set up a free in-home assessment. We offer a wide range of skilled nursing, medical and non-medical services that can help ensure you stay safely and effectively at home for as long as possible. There truly is no place like home.

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