“Your heart is the softest place on earth. Take care of it!” – Nayyirah Waheed
You can’t escape them around this time of 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 exactly how much we love them. But they can also act as a stark reminder to take steps to keep a healthy heart and protect that most vital of organs.
This can be particularly critical for older adults, who experience a lot of changes to the heart, such as stiffness and a buildup of fatty deposits within the arteries, which may bring about elevated blood pressure, a heart attack or stroke, or cardiovascular disease.
Fortunately, however, there are steps seniors can take to decrease the potential risk of heart complications and keep the heart healthy throughout aging, which include:
- Boost physical activity. After first obtaining the doctor’s approval and recommendations, help encourage and motivate your older family member to get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week – preferably working out daily, if at all possible. There are unlimited 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 buddy, offer to exercise with the senior, so that you both reap the health benefits.
- Incorporate more heart-healthy foods. Healthy eating habits may be difficult to implement and sustain if a loved one is used to fatty, salty, 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 every day with fresh fruit; or substitute 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 an excellent tool for boosting heart health.
- Incorporate stress-relieving techniques. Cutting down stress is an essential element in sustaining heart health, in addition to emotional wellbeing. Ensure the senior’s day-to-day routine consists of plenty of time for enjoyable, relaxing activities, like reading, listening to music, spending some time outdoors, and participating in favorite hobbies and pastimes. Your loved one may also benefit from speaking with a counselor for further 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
- Offering friendly companionship for conversations and engaging, fun activities
- And more
Email or call us any time at (515) 292-2650 for more information on our services and to request a complimentary in-home consultation. Our senior helpers in Urbandale and the surrounding areas are available for as little as a few hours each week, up through and including 24-hour, live-in care, to provide the perfect solution for a senior you love.