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Caregivers: Take Care of Your Heart

While caregiving is a rewarding experience, the added burden of caring for a loved one can have a tremendous physical and emotional impact. Oftentimes, caregivers get so caught up in maintaining their loved one’s health that they forget to take care of themselves. According to the Center for Advancing Health, this neglect leads to an increased risk of heart disease.

The stress of being a caregiver can raise your blood pressure, cause chest pain or an irregular heartbeat. According to theIndiana State Department of Health, high blood pressure is only one of the risk factors of heart disease. Others include:

  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor nutrition

February is American Heart Month, a time for everyone, including caregivers, to engage in heart-healthy activities and take steps to prevent heart disease and stroke. The most important thing caregivers can do for their ailing loved ones is to take care of themselves. And one of the best ways for caregivers to do that is to find temporary help, also known as respite care.

Respite care gives a caregiver the time to run errands and finish housework or, better yet, enjoy a movie or a walk outside. Even a couple of hours can make a difference in stress levels and, subsequently, for heart health. Ask family members, friends or someone from a faith community to provide non-medical care for a day, or even a few hours in order to get that time away. If those resources aren’t available, CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions can connect you with professional, in-home care providers.

Here are some additional tips to take care of your heart and stay healthy:

  • Maintain a balanced, nutritious diet
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid tobacco products and overusing alcohol
  • Know the warning signs of a heart attack
  • Monitor your blood pressure and cholesterol

Caregivers that make a commitment to heart health can see improvements in mental and physical health and have more energy – and that’s good for everyone. Get more details about what caregivers can do to reduce their risk for stress and heart disease by visiting the American Heart Association website.