“Your heart is the softest place on earth. Take care of it!” – Nayyirah Waheed
You can’t escape them during this time of year: flaming red heart-shaped balloons, cookies, cakes, boxes of chocolates, and cards that grab our attention during Heart Health Month and encourage us to show those most important to us exactly how much we love them. But they also can function as a stark reminder to take steps to enhance our very own heart health and safeguard that most essential of organs.
This is especially important for older adults, who encounter a variety of changes to the heart, most notably stiffness and a buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries that could bring about elevated blood pressure, a heart attack or stroke, or heart disease.
The good news, however, is there are steps seniors can take to lower the possibility of heart complications and keep the heart healthy throughout aging, such as:
- Increase physical activity. After first obtaining the doctor’s approval and suggestions, help encourage and motivate your older family member to get at least 150 minutes of exercise weekly – making working out a daily priority, if at all possible. There are countless options available, so see what the senior most enjoys: walking, bowling, gardening, riding a stationary bike, or even dancing! And since it is always more fun to exercise with somebody, offer to work out with the older adult, so that you both enjoy the health advantages.
- Incorporate more heart-healthy foods. Healthy eating habits may be difficult to implement and sustain if a senior is used to salty, fatty, or sugary food choices. Making gradual replacements is oftentimes a more effective way to create lasting habits. For example, try exchanging one unhealthy snack of cookies or chips each day with fresh fruit; or substitute the white bread in the senior’s sandwich with a whole grain option. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) meal plan from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is also a terrific tool for boosting heart health.
- Integrate stress-relieving strategies. Decreasing stress is a key element in maintaining heart health, in addition to emotional wellbeing. Ensure the senior’s daily routine includes plenty of time for enjoyable, relaxing activities, such as reading, listening to music, spending time outdoors, and engaging in favorite hobbies and pastimes. Your senior loved one may also benefit from speaking with a counselor for additional coping tactics to more effectively manage stress.
- Planning and preparing meals that are both nutritious and tasty
- Providing transportation and accompaniment to medical appointments, exercise classes, or wherever a senior needs to go
- Helping with household chores to allow older adults time to relax
- Offering friendly companionship for conversations and engaging, fun activities
- And more
Call us any time at 410-357-9640 for more information on our elder care in Baltimore and the surrounding communities 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 just the right solution for a senior you love. For a full list of each of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.