Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death among seniors. Fortunately, there are many steps seniors living in assisted living homes can take to help improve their cardiovascular health. Below are 13 great tips for making an older adult’s heart stronger and healthier.
1.) Exercise Regularly
People over the age of 65 are less active than those younger. However, being physically active daily helps to increase circulation and reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Although there is a risk of falls, people can make an effort to exercise regularly by walking or jogging for just a few minutes each day. The key to being physically active is ensuring seniors get the right kind of exercise due to their injury, illness, or disability.
2.) Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential in preventing cardiovascular disease. The individual needs to eat lots of fruits and vegetables as they contain vitamins and minerals that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Many studies have shown that people who follow a healthy diet typically have fewer medical problems, including heart ailments.
3.) Don’t Smoke
Smoking is well known to be bad for the heart and can lead to cardiovascular disease. According to a study, people with high blood pressure who smoke have a greater risk of coronary heart disease than those who are at normal blood pressure and don’t smoke. For many years, cigarette companies have been aware that their products contain harmful chemicals but have continued to market them as safe. However, tobacco use has been shown to increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by almost 20%.
4.) Reduce Stress
Stress is an enemy of the cardiovascular system and should be avoided as much as possible by seniors in assisted living homes. Reducing stress can help to lower blood pressure levels and reduce anxiety and depression, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease. One way to help reduce stress is to list all the things that worry or bother the senior. Once the list is complete, ask yourself if you can do something about it or take it easy until it is no longer a bother.
5.) Control Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Lipid profiles are important to cardiovascular health and are effective indicators of the cardiovascular system. People who have high cholesterol levels usually have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. High blood pressure is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and can raise a person’s risk of dying from a heart attack. Therefore, people should visit their doctor regularly and get important tests such as cholesterol values or blood pressure measurements.
6.) Maintain a Healthy Weight
Seniors over the age of 65 should try to keep a healthy weight. Being overweight increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One way to maintain a healthy weight is to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly, which will prevent gaining excess weight in the first place.
7.) Avoid Stress-Related Drugs and Medications
Many different medications are used to treat a variety of diseases and conditions. However, a growing body of research suggests that some of these medications and the overuse of drugs may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. If a senior has been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease, it is recommended to talk with their care team about changes in medication to reduce the risk.
8.) Manage Diabetes
Approximately 25% of seniors over 65 living in an assisted living home suffer from diabetes. Research shows that diabetes can increase a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Making sure insulin or other medications are administered correctly by checking blood glucose levels several times a day is essential to help manage diabetes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
9.) Seek Medical Care
Seniors should make sure to see a doctor regularly. The physician can recommend the best ways for older adults to help improve their cardiovascular health. For example, if someone has cardiovascular disease, their doctor may want to do stress tests or heart scans to see if treatment is needed.
10.) Check for Sleep Apnea
Many seniors living in assisted living homes over the age of 65 have sleep apnea, a condition that can affect the heart and lead to heart failure. Sleep apnea is when breathing repeatedly stops for short periods during sleep. As a result, people with sleep apnea may wake up several times at night and experience daytime fatigue or drowsiness. People who are obese or have high blood pressure are more susceptible to developing sleep apnea. Treatment for sleep apnea is available, and most people can be helped to have better quality sleep, making them feel better.
11.) Watch Alcohol Consumption
Many seniors living in assisted living homes may want to relax with a drink after a hard day at work or just at the end of the day. Although these seniors enjoy themselves, they should be aware of how alcohol consumption can harm their health, particularly cardiovascular health, by reducing blood flow through the body. Research shows that blood flow is reduced when alcohol consumption is over two drinks a day.
12.) Eat Healthy Fats
Seniors should make sure they have healthy fats in their diets. People with high cholesterol levels are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and these seniors are often obese. The best healthy fats to eat are found in fish, avocados, nuts, and canola oils (canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids). These foods help reduce cholesterol levels and promote heart health.
13.) Take Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Many people take omega-3 fatty acids supplements because they are known to help reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cardiac health. In addition, research shows that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides, the blood marker associated with heart disease. Importantly, these supplements should not be used without medical supervision in seniors at risk of arrhythmia.
A Happier Heart
Senior citizens who live in assisted living homes should be healthy and remain active. By making good lifestyle choices, seniors can lower their risk of developing cardiovascular disease and live longer healthier lives.