Straight from the Heart: Queen Latifah Talks About Her Mom's Heart Failure Diagnosis

When Queen Latifah first heard her mom was diagnosed with heart failure, she "freaked out" -- but only for a second. Queen quickly gathered her wits, and her family, to take care of her mom. BHG sat down and chatted with Queen about how she's helping her mom, herself, and her family live healthy.

After your mom's diagnosis, did you make any changes to your daily life?

My whole family has made changes. We all had to get a bit healthier. Exercise has been a big part of it: My mom and I do strength training and stretching, take walks, and do deep breathing together. When the weather's not good, my mom walks the halls of my house, which are really long!

We've also cut down on sodium in our diets. Instead of just making specific meals for my mom, we cook the same heart-healthy meals for everyone. We never have saltshakers on the table.

What's the key to taking care of yourself while caring for a loved one?

It's important to take a moment for yourself and breathe. It's also good to have a team of friends and family in place to help. One person can't do everything. My cousin, sister, and friends all help take care of Mom. We all take shifts and divvy up the responsibilities. We also have a group e-mail that we can all check into for updates from doctor's appointments and other important information.

What helps you stay healthy -- physically and emotionally?

It's hard for me to focus on my own health, but I realize that my mental health is very important. I make sure to relax my mind and do things to decrease my own stress regularly. Going for walks and listening to music helps keep me even-keeled. Making music also really helps me de-stress. In fact, my family and I often just get together and play music. We have a family jam session to get our minds off everything.

Queen and her mom, Rita Owens, have joined the American Heart Association's national initiative Rise Above Heart Failure (#riseabovehf) to raise awareness of this chronic condition. For more info, check out riseabovehf.org.

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