IIn the United States, February is known as American Heart Month. What better time to examine things that seniors living in their own homes can do to take good care of their hearts? Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in both men and women in the United States. Aging is a contributing risk factor for heart disease, so it is especially beneficial for seniors to make small, healthy living changes that can help manage and/or prevent heart conditions. Let’s check out some ideas and tips that in home caregivers and clients can employ on the way to a healthier heart.
Eat your fruits and vegetables to your heart’s content
When shopping at the grocery store, encourage a senior to fill up the shopping cart with colorful fruits and vegetables. A diet filled with fruits and vegetables can help lower high blood pressure and cholesterol. Try to increase intake of high fiber fruits and vegetables like bananas, oranges, grapes, green beans, broccoli, and sweet potatoes to name a few. Does a loved one need help with meal preparation? Visit our Services page to see how PAN caregivers can facilitate a healthy food plan for seniors in home care.
Cut the fat and salt
Avoid foods high in saturated fats and extra salt. Keep dairy and meats low fat, as well. Some organizations recommend that you look for labels that say low or reduced fat (2% or less for dairy, and skinless or lean for meats) to help ensure a low saturated fat intake. Encouraging a person to eat healthy fatty fish like trout or salmon just twice a week can help lower the risk of heart disease. Keep the salt intake to around 1500 mg per day, or 500 mg per meal. Reading the labels at the grocery store can help avoid buying items high in saturated fat or salt.
Let’s get moving!
Seniors tend to lose fat burning muscle as they age, so keeping the body active is another key to helping a heart stay healthy. Light resistance or free weight exercises can help build/maintain muscle. Doing endurance or cardiovascular (cardio) exercise like brisk walking, biking, or light aerobics, are also beneficial for heart healthiness. Read our blog about the benefits of yoga for seniors in home care! According to the American Heart Association, exercising for 30 minutes a day 5 times a week will improve heart health and lower one’s risk of disease. The National Institute on Aging at NIH has free exercise videos and advice that you can access online here. As always, consult with a physician before beginning any new exercises.
Say goodbye to smoking
If the individual is a smoker, quitting is another essential key for improving heart healthiness. Help look for smoking cessation programs to assist with quitting smoking. Caregivers or family members may be able to speak with the senior’s physician about prescription options if necessary.
Helping your senior stay on track with heart-healthy living is critical to avoiding increased risk of heart disease. Work with your loved one or client to make healthy living choices each day. You can follow these simple tips and help him or her by making changes in their diet, get them up and exercising, and cutting out smoking to help improve their heart’s health. Keep the recommended regimen by the doctor to make sure that he or she is doing what is best for their heart.
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