Heart to Heart
"It's Great to be Alive and to Help Others."
As a heart patient or family member of a loved one who has come face-to-face with some type of heart disease, you need to know that there are many sources of support to help you in recovery and ongoing rehabilitation. Mended Hearts, one such support organization, is composed of a special group of people... people who are involved: heart patients, spouses, health professionals and other individuals who are particularly interested in helping people deal with the emotional recovery from heart disease.
Today's highly successful methods of treatment and surgery for heart disease and heart defects are the result of many years of intensive research and experience by dedicated individuals and organizations. Years have been added to the patient's lifetime, while the quality of life has been greatly improved. Medical advances now enable most heart patients to resume day-to-day functions in a very short period. However, each patient recovers at a different rate, depending upon factors such as age, physical condition, other medical problems, mental outlook and social relationships.
Fortunately, as heart patients we live in a time and place when so much can be done to help restore us to health. Physicians, nurses and others who are entrusted with our care are not only highly trained and skilled in their professions, but are acutely aware of our emotional needs as well. In addition, help can be rendered by support groups such as The Mended Hearts.
Return to normalcy for all concerned will be much easier if patient and family exercise patience and consideration for each other. Changes in lifestyle and healthstyle will require adjustment for all members of the household. Making these changes smoothly and successfully will be a challenge to family and friends alike.
Family support is important in helping ensure that the patient understands and adheres to any medication, diet, exercise program, or other prescriptions. The family can also be helpful by trying to be more understanding of what the patient is experiencing.
The patient in turn needs to be considerate and sensitive to the spouse and other immediate family members who are under stress, and at least temporarily facing possible role changes.
Heart patients can experience some degree of depression. This is not uncommon. Usually such depression stops on its own as a result of the general healing process. However, if it continues, professional help should be sought. Those trained to deal with such problems can be very effective at treating depression that does not go away on its own. Remember, think positively.
An important aspect of recovery is the goal of having the heart patient return to his or her normal role in the family and community. Initially, and for varying times and degrees in the recovery process, the patient is dependent upon others for many day-to-day functions. It is important not to make the patient feel like an invalid. Also, do not attempt to assume or to place blame for the patient's heart condition, but do look forward to the future with confidence ... and plan for the future together.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of coping with the situation. In order to be mutually supportive, it will be helpful if family members express their feelings. One good outlet for expressing their feelings is to talk with members of The Mended Hearts, Inc.
There are currently over two hundred Mended Hearts chapters throughout the United States. Most chapters meet on a regular basis, usually monthly, and many feature presentations by health providers. Members are thus able to keep up with changing treatments and technologies in the heart field. Meetings are also devoted to members discussions, social interaction and mutual support. Most chapters send newsletters to members as an added way to stay in touch.
One of the most important aspects of Mended Hearts is its patient visiting program. Members carefully trained as visitors strive to give emotional support to patients and families before and after treatment or surgery.
Recognizing the value of being there when needed, patients and family members benefit from these visits; being able to see and talk with someone who has also been there.
Mended Hearts urges all who may benefit from this unique service to communicate with us. Interested persons are invited to attend a meeting or to find out more about us.