Coronary Artery Disease: Helping a Loved One
Helping with daily activities
If you have a family member or other loved one who has coronary artery disease, you may want to know what you can do to help. Your loved one might need a little help with daily activities like managing medicines or cleaning the house. There are things you can do to help.
- Ask how you can help.
It can be hard for someone to ask for the help and support they want or need. Your loved one may be waiting for you to offer help.
- Help with shopping for and preparing food.
Your loved one may have trouble getting out of the house to shop for food and may depend on others for what he or she eats. If you can, also ask neighbors and friends to help with grocery shopping. And you can help your loved one eat heart-healthy foods by helping to cook meals and make snacks.
- Do some cleaning.
Cleaning the house may be hard for your loved one. But a clean environment can be important for both mood and health (helps prevent infections). You might want to help clean your loved one's house regularly or hire a cleaning service.
- Keep the house temperature comfortable.
Do your best to keep the temperature and humidity comfortable. Your loved one's comfort level may get worse during hot, humid days, so air conditioners should be used during the summer, if possible.
- Provide transportation.
If your loved one cannot drive, you can help drive to run errands or go to doctor appointments.
- Help keep track of medicines.
People with heart disease typically take a few medicines each day. Make sure that your loved one can afford to pay for the medicines. Help out by organizing the medicines. Get a pillbox that holds a week's worth of pills, and fill the pillbox for your loved one, if needed.
Giving emotional support
Connecting to family, friends, and other people is good for your loved one and for his or her heart. Sometimes living with coronary artery disease can feel like too much for one person to handle. But you can help your loved one by providing emotional support. Here are some ways to help.
- Offer encouragement.
It can be hard to make lifestyle changes such as eating more fruits and vegetables and fewer fatty foods. Encourage your loved one to keep trying and to ask for help. You may also offer to alter your own diet or lifestyle to encourage healthy behaviors. This is particularly true for smoking, since it can be nearly impossible for someone to quit smoking if there is another smoker in the home.
- Help and encourage your loved one to be active.
Help your loved one with his or her activity goals. Walk or do other activities together. Your loved one will likely try to do moderate activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week. The goal might be to exercise for at least 2½ hours a week.
- Ask if you can help with doctor visits.
You can offer support by sitting in on doctor visits and taking notes. This can help your loved one remember important instructions. He or she may also feel less alone.
- Help with paperwork and planning.
There is a lot of paperwork in health care. You can help by offering to review all insurance policies and finances and contacting professional help if it's needed.
By providing support, you may find that it brings you closer to each other. It can also make your relationship stronger.
Current as of: September 7, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Rakesh K. Pai MD, FACC - Cardiology, Electrophysiology
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine