As we get older, our bodies change – and our cardiovascular system is no exception. In seniors, the heart is more likely to struggle to beat faster during physical activity or stress. Their major arteries and heart valves can become stiffer, making it more difficult to circulate blood. Seniors are also more likely to experience problems relating to fatty deposits building up on artery walls as well.
This means that people over 65 are more likely to experience heart disease, stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and other dangerous health problems. Luckily, there are a few easy things that everyone can do to lower these risks now! In honor of American Heart Month, our senior home care agency in NJ has put together some heart-health tips for seniors who live at home and need to watch their diet, exercise and any preexisting conditions.
#1 – Quit smoking
If you do smoke, it’s never too late to quit. Even if you’ve been smoking for decades, quitting in your 60s can still greatly benefit your health. Studies have found that adults aged 60-69 can reduce their mortality risk by 10%, and in 10 years their risk of lung cancer is reduced by 50%. It can also help prevent future health conditions like diabetes and depression.
#2 – Get moving
Physical activity is great for our health, no matter our age, fitness level, or physical ability! Just regular moderate activity has an immediate impact on our overall health, improving cholesterol numbers, lowering high blood pressure, and boosting heart health.
It also helps prevent future health conditions, strengthens bones and muscles, improves mood, and helps you lose any excess weight. The best tip for anyone starting out is to choose activities you like – nature walks, yoga, dancing, swimming, tennis, pilates, and water aerobics are all great options!
#3 – Eat your vegetables
Research has shown again and again that plant-based diets are very good for our hearts and physical health. They reduce bad cholesterol and improve good cholesterol, which in turn decreases high blood pressure and risk of heart disease. A plant-based diet is predominantly made up of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, and nuts.
This doesn’t mean you have to give up meat entirely, but that it should be limited to small, infrequent portions if you want to get the most benefit. Look for fun cooking classes, seasonal produce, and organic options, and stay away from canned, processed, and ready-made meals high in salt and fats.
#4 – Maintain a healthy weight
It’s always best to maintain a weight that is healthy for your body type. A qualified health practitioner can guide you towards what a healthy goal weight should be for your body, helping to reduce strain on your heart and joints and manage health risks as well as pre-existing conditions.
Getting to this goal usually means increasing your physical activity and improving your diet, both of which further reduce your risk of heart disease.
#5 – Control your pre-existing conditions
Be aware of the implications of any pre-existing conditions and work with your doctors and therapists to minimize their impact on your health and control your symptoms. This means following a recommended diet, managing medications correctly, and taking any additional steps recommended by your team.
It’s also a good idea to track your symptoms and improvements to see what is working well for you. Many seniors benefit from measuring their blood pressure and cholesterol levels on a very regular basis, so that the results can keep you motivated – and you can be alert if anything changes.
#6 – Be aware of heart health symptoms and act quickly
Some health problems have very gradual symptoms that are easily mistaken for other health issues or ignored completely. When it comes to heart health, however, recognizing early symptoms and contacting emergency services quickly is essential.
Heart disease symptoms to watch out for include numbness and tingling sensations, lightheadedness, cold sweats, nausea, fatigue, swelling in the ankles/feet/neck, chest pain, and reduced ability to do your regular physical activities. This is especially important for women, as heart attacks can feel like a case of the flu and last several days rather than feeling like severe, sudden chest pain.
When you want to stay heart-healthy, having a home health aide in New Jersey can be a real blessing! Not only can your home health aide help manage pre-existing conditions, measure your blood pressure, and manage your medications, they can also assist with preparing healthy meals and keeping you active.
The United Methodist Communities HomeWorks program is designed for seniors who want more assistance in daily life, while still enjoying the comfort of home and their local community. To find out how we can help you live an independent life as a senior through at home care for the elderly, please contact us today or visit our website at:
This blog was originally published at https://homeworks.umcommunities.org/blog/taking-care-of-your-heart-at-home/