As the most often-diagnosed medical condition in the US, millions of elderly Americans live with heart disease. Heart disease-related complications send many seniors to hospital emergency departments every year. Sadly, some end up losing their independence permanently as a result.
If there’s an aging-in-place elderly loved one in your life, heart disease prevention should be a priority. February is American Heart Month, making it the perfect time to introduce your senior to some heart-healthy lifestyle changes.
Heart Disease Takes Many Forms
When you hear the term “heart disease” it refers to several different types of heart conditions, such as:
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Heart valve disease
- Heart muscle disease
- Atrial fibrillation
- Congestive heart failure
In general, the risk for someone developing heart disease rises at age 45 for men, and 55 for women. Older adults with pre-existing medical conditions that aren’t being managed well, like Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure, have a greater likelihood for developing heart disease.
In addition to age and poorly managed diabetes, other risk factors for heart disease include being overweight or obese, cigarette smoking, inactivity, a family history, unhealthy diet and clinical depression.
Heart-Healthy Tips for Seniors
Individuals with heart disease also run a higher risk for experiencing a stroke or heart attack than do those without heart disease. As a concerned family member or friend, you can show your elderly loved one how much you care by encouraging them to take these heart-healthy steps:
Watch for signs
Depending on the underlying heart condition, heart disease symptoms may include shortness-of-breath, chest or back pain, fluid retention, heart palpitations, unusual fatigue and more. If you suspect that your loved one has a heart problem schedule them a doctor’s appointment right away. If the symptoms are serious rush them to the nearest hospital emergency department for further evaluation.
Once they are cleared by their doctor, encourage your senior to participate in heart-healthy forms of exercise that place minimal stress on their bones and joints. Great low-impact workouts for the elderly include indoor cycling, walking, Yoga and swimming. Exercising for at least 20 minutes, 3 to 5X per week is not only beneficial to a senior’s cardiovascular health, doing so also relieves stress and improves flexibility, muscle strength and self-esteem.
Stop unhealthy habits
Cigarette smoking, inactivity and drinking alcohol to excess, along with consuming too many sugary foods and beverages, are not good for an aging adult’s heart. If your loved one is guilty of these unhealthy activities respectfully share your concerns and give them lots of encouragement to change.
Devise a heart-healthy diet
Adopting a heart-healthy diet doesn’t always mean that your loved one won’t get to eat some of their favorite foods. When heart disease prevention is your goal, encourage your senior to avoid foods high in processed sugar, salt and trans fats.
Instead, help them prepare healthier meals filled with fresh fruits and veggies, lean meats, fish, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. Since dehydration is also possible, be sure that they drink plenty of water throughout the day- especially when exercising.
Your loved one may be taking medications that treat heart disease or one of the medical conditions that affect it, like Type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure. Sadly, poor medication compliance sends millions of aging adults to the hospital every year. Help your senior keep their heart strong by helping create for them an efficient medication management system.
Your Trusted Source for Senior Home Care in Southeastern Florida
Making sure that an aging-in-place senior properly cares for their heart by leading a more active, heart-healthy lifestyle can be challenging. When you need a hand contact Dependable Senior Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care provider, our highly qualified caregivers are well trained and carefully screened. Our personalized in-home services are available 7 days a week, ranging from a few hours per day to 24-hour and live-in care. At Dependable Senior Care, we are owned and operated by healthcare professionals with over 80 years of combined experience.
In addition to nutritious meals, food shopping assistance and medication reminders, our in-home caregivers can provide daily living assistance for personal care, respite care, nursing care, companionship care, and Alzheimer’s and dementia care. With offices in Palm Beach, Miami Dade and Broward County, Dependable Senior Care is your family trusted source for senior in-home care in Southeastern Florida. To learn more now, or to schedule an initial consultation, please visit www.dependableseniorcare.com!