Having a chronic condition like heart failure is stressful.
Older adults experiencing heart failure have good reason to be worried about their health. However, it’s important to keep stress under control for the good of both their physical and mental health. In fact, a new study suggests that too much stress and anger can put patients with heart failure could make the condition worse.
About the Study
To conduct the study, researchers asked 24 heart failure patients to complete a daily survey to assess their feelings of stress, anger, and other negative feelings. The participants completed the surveys for one week.
After the surveys, the participants took part in a mental stress test involving math problems and discussing a recent stressful situation. Researchers conducted echocardiograms to see how the heart was functioning while the participants were resting and when they were under stress.
The results of the study indicated that the participants who reported feeling stressed in the week before the stress test and echocardiogram had worse diastolic heart function than those who didn’t. Diastolic function is how well the heart is able to relax between beats so that it can fill up with blood. People who have heart failure have hearts that don’t pump enough blood through the body, so being able to fill with blood is important.
Ways to Manage Stress
Given that stress can make an older adult’s heart condition worse, it’s important to know some ways to help them manage stress, such as these:
Consume Less Caffeine: Caffeine is a common stimulant. It’s found in coffee, soda, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. People react differently to caffeine and can tolerate different amounts. If your older family member consumes a lot of caffeine, consider having them cut back to see how it affects their stress levels.
Write: It can be helpful for seniors to write about what is causing them stress. Or, they may find it more helpful to write down the things they are grateful for, which can help them to focus on the positive.
Exercise: Exercise is an excellent way to reduce the stress that also improves health. The senior should talk to their doctor before beginning any exercise routine.
Another way to reduce the stress in your aging relative’s life is by hiring home care to assist them. Part of what is stressful about a chronic condition is the fear that an emergency may occur when no one is around to help. When home care is present, the senior doesn’t have to worry about that and can focus their thoughts and energy on things they enjoy. In addition, a home care provider can help to manage the condition by reminding the older adult to take medications, preparing healthy meals, and going for walks with the older adult.