“Your heart is the softest place on earth. Take care of it!” – Nayyirah Waheed
You cannot escape them during this time of the year: flaming red heart-shaped balloons, cookies, cakes, boxes of chocolates, and cards that grab our attention and encourage us to show those closest to us just how much we love them. However, since February is also Heart Health Awareness Month, they can also function as a stark reminder to take steps to boost our personal heart health and safeguard that most important of organs.
This can be especially important for seniors, who experience a number of changes to the heart, for example, stiffness and a buildup of fatty deposits within the arteries, that could result in increased blood pressure, cardiac arrest or stroke, and heart disease.
Fortunately, however, there are steps older adults can take to lower the possibility of heart complications and keep the heart healthy throughout aging, such as:
- Increase physical activity. After first getting the doctor’s approval and suggestions, help encourage and motivate your older family member to get at least 150 minutes of exercise every week – ideally working out daily, if at all possible. There are countless options available, so see what the senior most enjoys: walking, bowling, riding a stationary bike, gardening, or even dancing! And since it is always more enjoyable to work out with a companion, offer to exercise with the senior, so you both reap the health advantages.
- Include more heart-healthy foods. Healthy eating habits can be challenging to implement and maintain if a loved one is used to salty, fatty, or sugary food choices. Making gradual replacements is often a more effective way to generate lasting habits. For instance, try exchanging one unhealthy snack of cookies or chips each day with fresh fruit; or replace the white bread in the older adult’s sandwich with a whole grain choice. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) meal plan from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is also a good tool for boosting heart health.
- Integrate stress-relieving strategies. Decreasing stress is a key factor in preserving heart health, as well as emotional wellbeing. Ensure the senior’s daily routine includes enough time for enjoyable, relaxing activities, such as reading, listening to music, spending some time outdoors, and participating in favorite hobbies and pastimes. Your senior loved one might also benefit from speaking with a counselor for further coping tactics to more effectively manage stress.
- Planning and preparing meals which are both tasty and nutritious
- Providing transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, exercise classes, or wherever a senior would like to go
- Helping with household chores to allow older adults time to relax
- Offering friendly companionship for conversations and engaging, fun activities
- And more
Contact us any time at 785-286-2273 for more information on our Topeka senior care services and to request a free in-home consultation. We are available for as little as a few hours every week, up through and including 24-hour, live-in care, to provide the ideal solution for a senior you love.