What to Do About Stubborn Patients?

SYoung Health Guide
  • Since the beginning of this year I have written plenty of times on this blog about my struggle with high cholesterol and what I do to control it. Today, I would like to touch on the fairly sensitive subject of dealing with an aging parent with heart disease - for those of us over 40 this is an all too common reality.


    Last week, my parents took me and my wife out for a celebratory dinner. We settled on a new pizza place nearby that is actually quite good. Now, my father had quadruple heart bypass surgery in early 2007 after suffering a small "early warning" heart attack. His doctors at the time told him that he had been very lucky, and made the right decision to be admitted for tests. Had he waited even a few more days, he would have most likely suffered a major cardiac arrest that would have at worst killed him instantly, or at best left him disabled. Since his surgery, he has had trouble with regulating some of his medicines, but overall, he has done quite well. The thing is, he could be doing much, much better!

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    For the first year after his surgery he was a very good patient (eating a good diet and even exercising, something somewhat foreign to my dad). Since that time, he can't seem find time for exercising and has returned to occasionally eating food that would send his cardiologist into a tirade. Over the course of our conversation during dinner, we came to find out that he satisfied his snacking needs earlier in the day by consuming a 7-11 Cheeseburger Bite (no doubt loaded with sodium), and when it came time to order our food, he settled on a pizza loaded with pepperoni (again, more sodium). Now, for someone with heart disease and a history of high blood pressure, this is not good!


    I have always tried, to no avail, to be the voice of reason and encourage him to do the right thing. Unfortunately, I cannot even count on my mother's help - who grew up in Italy in the late 30's and early 40's and was a close witness on the effects of war - as it is against her DNA to get rid of food, no matter how bad it is for you. She, in many ways, enables my father's bad eating habits.


    So, what to do about stubborn aging parents who are set in their ways? I am not saying that I am giving up, but I am certainly reaching that point. I would definitely like to hear from anyone in this community who has lived, or lives, through the same experiences, and I certainly welcome any advice. 

Published On: December 14, 2010