Living with Congestive Heart Failure   

Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is the leading cause of hospitalization in seniors. Although CHF is a serious condition, its name makes it sound even worse than it is. In CHF, which is sometimes called Chronic Heart Failure, the heart has not failed completely, but it is weakened and cannot pump blood effectively.

CHF is not a death sentence, but it must be caught as early as possible and treated effectively. A variety of medications are commonly prescribed for CHF, including beta-blockers, diuretics, and ACE inhibitors, but lifestyle changes are also important. In fact, faithfully enacting diet and lifestyle changes can improve — and even reverse — CHF.

What lifestyle changes make a difference? Stress management, eliminating tobacco and alcohol, restricting salt, being physically active, getting adequate sleep. No big surprises here. The real issue is not what changes to make, but how to make them, and how to make them stick.

Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community. We maintain an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need.

We provide a variety of services, including the support needed to manage CHF, as well as primary care, hospital care, medical specialty services, prescription drugs, nursing home care, emergency services, home care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adult day care, recreational therapy, meals, dentistry, nutritional counseling, social services, laboratory / X-ray services, social work counseling, and transportation.

While it was once thought that exercise was unsafe for people with CHF, today we know this is not true. However, exercise must be carefully controlled and monitored by knowledgeable therapists, who communicate regularly with the patient’s doctors, in order to help — and not harm — the CHF patient.

While exercise is beneficial, it is not enough. Support in changing diet and lifestyle is also required. Unlearning the habits of a lifetime is not an easy matter. However, our team approach, incorporating physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians, social workers, and other healthcare personnel, is proven to be the most effective way to help people with CHF lead a healthy, active life.

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