If you have a loved one suffering from high blood pressure you know how heartbreaking seeing them struggle can be. What once seemed simple is now full of complications and potential risks, and though all of the restrictions can seem suffocating it’s important not to let them slack. The worst thing you can do is become a hypertension enabler. Caving in to things you know they shouldn’t be doing, or neglecting things they should, opens the door for their condition to escalate, possibly leading to heart disease. Here’s a list of common but dangerous things family members do and say to enable their loved ones with hypertension, preventing them from getting better.
1. “I know he shouldn’t drink so much, but sometimes it’s the only thing that helps.”
It’s extremely important for people with hypertension to limit their alcohol intake to no more than two drinks a day. This can be tough for you, because drinking may have been something that you and your loved one did together or with friends, and they may claim that drinking helps alleviate the stress of their condition, but it’s important to remember that by enabling them you’re not doing them any favors. Abstaining from alcohol with them might make it easier for them to cut back too.
2. “I just don’t have the time/energy/money to always plan special meals.”
Maintaining a healthy diet is an essential part of managing high blood pressure. Helping your loved one monitor their sodium, cholesterol, and fat intakes can be a painstaking task, and it may be uncomfortable to have to learn how to cook and eat new things, but sometimes small sacrifices have to be made when dealing with hypertension. Reading up on nutrition labels and eliminating unhealthy foods from the kitchen make it easier not to let them slip back into old habits. You should also encourage them to add some vitamins for the heart to their daily diet. It’s important to make this healthier lifestyle a household change to keep them from feeling isolated.
3. “He’s not fat, he’s just big boned!”
Though hopefully no one actually uses this particular excuse, it’s common to overlook a loved one’s need for physical fitness when dealing with hypertension. Losing weight is a huge way to lower high blood pressure, and regular exercise is the fastest way to do this. Getting them off the couch and into the gym may seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but they need to know that they have your support. Nagging doesn’t work, but offering positive encouragement and a willingness to get fit with them does.
4. “She says it gets worse when she takes the pill, I can’t stand to see her like that.”
People with hypertension tend to find clever excuses to avoid taking their meds or heart supplements, but it’s your job to stay on them like a nurse! Medication is really the glue that keeps their health together, and sometimes there may be unpleasant side effects, but it’s important to remind them of the greater good. Don’t pretend to be oblivious if they haven’t taken them in a while– gently confront them about it. It may help to get a 7-day pillbox so they can’t “forget” to take it.