Congestive heart failure isn’t curable, but it can be managed.
This is especially true if your elderly family member is managing her fluid levels through her diet.
Why Does Fluid Build Up?
Fluid builds up in your senior’s body with congestive heart failure because the heart isn’t able to move blood and fluids efficiently throughout her body. It takes more effort from your senior’s heart to keep blood pumping at all, so it tends to collect in the extremities in particular. Doing things like elevating her feet can help to move that fluid back up out of her lower legs and feet.
Decreasing Salt Intake
One of the first things your senior’s doctor might recommend when she’s diagnosed with CHF is to reduce her salt intake as much as possible. Excess salt causes your senior’s body to hang onto more water in order to stay in balance. Reducing salt intake can help to encourage her body to let go of some of that fluid. Table salt is the easiest to manage, but there are other forms of salt, too.
Reading Labels and Avoiding Prepackaged Foods
Reading labels is really important, because the nutrition label tells you exactly how much salt is in each serving of a particular food. Avoid relying on the labels on the front of the box that tell you the food has “low” or “reduced” sodium. These are subjective. Look at the nutritional label itself. Also, do what you can to move away from prepackaged foods.
Sticking with Whole Foods Most Often
Keeping your senior’s diet primarily whole foods, such as produce, fresh lean meats, and whole grains, gives you more control over how much salt your aging family member is eating. This can be time-consuming and may be more than your senior wants to do, however. Finding a caregiver who can take over cooking for her may be the perfect answer.
Tracking and Managing Fluid Intake
Your senior’s doctor may recommend that your senior start tracking how much water she drinks each day. If she’s not drinking enough water, that can present problems, but too much can as well. With congestive heart failure, your senior is seeking balance in all areas. Eating foods that have high water content as well as other nutrients, such as fiber, protein, and vitamins, can give her the hydration she needs as well as meeting other nutritional needs.
Managing fluid levels with congestive heart failure can be a crucial part of keeping your aging family member comfortable and as healthy as possible while she deals with her heart issues.