Editor’s Note: When a family member or friend is sick with a chronic disease like heart failure, the role of caregiver often falls to women. However, more than one in three women is living with some form of cardiovascular disease themselves: It is the number one killer of women in the U.S.
Go Red For Women is a global community whose hearts are united against heart disease. The following article is reprinted with their permission. Learn more about heart disease in women. Read the original article here.
You want to support a friend with heart disease or be part of a support system. Your support can help her feel better about her diagnosis and can even help her make healthier life choices.
When discussing her heart diagnosis with you, one of the best things you can do is listen. While it may be tempting to tell her all the ways she can eat healthier or exercise more often, focus instead on hearing her concerns before rushing to give advice.
“Just listening is a really easy way to show someone you care,” says Carol D’Anca, a Chicago-based clinical nutritionist and owner of Foods Not Meds, who has helped to support several women friends struggling with heart disease.
Chances are, your friend is going to the doctor quite a bit these days and may feel overwhelmed by the barrage of information given to her. Lighten her load by doing some research yourself, suggests D’Anca.
“Go online and help her with research about her condition and treatment options,” she says. “Work together to dig deeper and gain an understanding of what she is going through. Your willingness to help will go a long way.”
Depression is an unfortunate byproduct of heart disease for many women. Upon receiving bad health news, they tend to shut themselves off from activities they once enjoyed. If this describes your friend, set up a regular social outing for the two of you (or invite others) – maybe a Tuesday afternoon tea hour or a movie night once a week.
“She will start to feel better emotionally when she feels love from others,” D’Anca says. “I also recommend helping them find a support group of others who are going through the same thing. Several of my friends have done this and it has brightened their moods tremendously, just knowing that they aren’t suffering alone.”
Help improve your friend’s heart health by scheduling time to do activities together. Based on her likes and capabilities, organize a regular walk around the neighborhood or take a dance or step aerobics class together. Not only will the physical activity help your friend’s heart health, but it will improve her mood too.