Surviving a heart attack is cause for celebration – yet rather than joy, many seniors experience a surprising but common condition: post-heart attack depression. And by the same token, those with depression are more prone to having a heart attack later in life than those without mental health concerns.
Nightingale Homecare, the leading senior caregivers in Phoenix and surrounding areas, is here to help older adults and those who care for them understand what to watch for and what steps can be taken to alleviate depression following a heart attack or other significant health scare.
A senior may be clinically depressed if the following red flags are noted:
- Problems with falling or staying asleep
- Feeling restless, apathetic, sad, hopeless, and/or worthless
- Fatigue or lethargy
- Lack of concentration
If a senior you love is exhibiting signs such as these, try the following:
- See the doctor. First and foremost, check in with the senior’s primary care physician for a depression assessment and recommended treatment. The earlier depression is diagnosed and treated, the better.
- Look into cardiac rehab services. Post-heart attack depression can be helped through learning and implementing lifestyle changes such as eating healthier and exercising properly. Cardiac rehabilitation is often conducted in a group setting, allowing for social interaction with others who can empathize and understand what the senior is going through and provide necessary support.
- Ensure medication adherence. Not taking heart medications as directed can lead to depression – and someone who is depressed may not be motivated to take his or her meds, leading to a vicious cycle. Nightingale Homecare can help with medication reminders and management; contact us to learn more.
- Talk with a counselor. Professional counseling can be extremely beneficial for a depressed senior, providing the opportunity to work through the varied feelings that accompany surviving a traumatic event like a heart attack.
- Incorporate mind/body relaxation. Studies have shown that depression can be eased through the mindfulness, deep breathing, exercise and clearing of the mind through activities such as yoga, tai chi, meditation/prayer, and deep breathing exercises.
- Stay social. The pandemic has made it challenging to maintain social connections, but isolation can have a tremendously negative impact on our mental health. If in-person get-togethers with friends and family aren’t possible, using technology such as Zoom and Skype to stay in touch can make a world of difference in a depressed person’s outlook.
- Explore antidepressant options. Antidepressants may be a temporary option to ease symptoms. Ask the doctor for a recommendation, and carefully consider the pros and cons (i.e., any potential negative side effects). It’s important to keep in mind that antidepressants typically take several weeks before their full impact is realized.
Let Nightingale Homecare’s compassionate, skilled, and experienced caregivers in Phoenix and the surrounding areas provide the assistance a senior with post-heart attack depression needs. We offer friendly companionship, planning and preparation of heart-healthy meals, motivation to stay physically active, help with ensuring medications are taken properly, and many other services, according to each person’s particular needs.
Call us today at (602) 505-1555 to get started on a brighter tomorrow for a senior you love!