American Heart Month: How Can Seniors in Home Care Stay Healthy?

American Heart Month: How Can Seniors in Home Care Stay Healthy?

The National Institute for Health (NIH) has declared February to be American Heart Month. Heart disease is still the #1 killer in the United States, causing over 650,000 deaths every year. Those caring for seniors at home should know that those over 65 are at an increased risk of heart disease.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 800,000 heart attacks occur each year, and 1 in 5 of those are “silent heart attacks” meaning the damage is done without the person knowing what has happened. As a result, during American Heart Month, the American Heart Association is promoting what they call Life’s Simple 7®; a set of criteria to help you keep your heart healthy.

Home Care Services for Seniors and Life’s Simple 7

Seniors who receive home care services can manage the risks known as Life’s Simple 7. These criteria will help you prevent heart disease and improve your overall health. Many of these risk factors are interconnected (for example, losing weight can help with your blood pressure and blood sugar); but they are all important for their own reasons.

Manage Blood Pressure

Keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range can reduce the stress on your heart and arteries. Limit salt in your diet, keep your weight down and exercise to help naturally lower your blood pressure.

Control Cholesterol

Bad cholesterol levels can lead to a buildup of plaque that can clog the arteries and cause both stroke and heart disease. Exercise and a healthy diet are important for cholesterol levels, which should be monitored by your medical professional.

Manage Blood Sugar

Blood glucose levels can rise when the body develops a resistance to the insulin it produces. This is commonly known as Type 2 Diabetes, but blood sugar levels can become elevated before this is diagnosed, and even borderline cases, sometimes known as prediabetes can cause blood sugar to rise. Type 1 Diabetes, which occurs when the body fails to produce enough insulin, is also a risk factor for heart disease. However, unlike Type 2, Type 1 diabetes usually cannot be managed with diet and exercise.

Get Active

Ideally, get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity per day, at least 5 days per week. But even a few minutes a day of activity can help. As seniors work their way up to more activity per day.

Eat Better

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy whole grains can help maintain a healthy weight, keep blood pressure down, control cholesterol, and keep a healthy blood sugar. It will also help maintain enough energy to be active. So this may be the most important factor of all.

Lose Weight

So much of heart health involves maintaining a healthy weight. There many ways to achieve weight loss, but eating a healthy diet of reasonable portions, exercising regularly, and tracking your calories in and out is the simplest way to do so.

Stop Smoking

How many more ways are there to say it? The best time to stop smoking is today. The next best time is tomorrow. Smoking destroys your lungs and is terrible for your heart. Those are two pretty important organs, so do whatever it takes to stop.

As the American Heart Association admits, these guidelines are simple, but they aren’t always easy. Maintaining a healthy heart can be a lot of work, and it can seem overwhelming at times. That’s why getting help is so important, especially for seniors who live alone and receive in-home assistance

How Home Care Helps Seniors at Home Have Healthier Hearts

With so many factors that seniors need to keep in mind as they contemplate heart health, there are many things that an at-home care aide can assist with to keep on track. Most importantly, meal planning and preparation can help by ensuring seniors have healthy meals available at all times. As they get older, many seniors lose interest in cooking, or are unable to shop regularly for fresh foods. Many turn to frozen or processed foods, which can be high in sodium. In-home caregivers can handle grocery shopping, meal preparation and cleanup, so that healthy options are always available.

Home Care Housekeeping Helps Heart Health

Many seniors who live at home may think that doing housework counts as enough exercise. It certainly seems to be tiring enough! While getting more exercise is one of the most important ways to maintain heart health, the exertion required to do the laundry and clean the house isn’t the right kind of activity to be healthy. In fact, while doing housework can have some benefits, it mostly just robs seniors of the energy they could be using to do more specific and valuable forms of exercise. Having an in-home caregiver assist with light housekeeping and laundry is one of the most important ways to support a senior’s heart-healthy exercise regimen.

Medications Play a Role in Heart Health for Seniors at Home

In addition to a healthy diet, many of the above factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol can be treated with medication. Having an in-home caregiver set up and manage medication reminders can be an invaluable way to stay on track, especially for seniors who have multiple medications that have to be taken at different times of day.

Home Care Powered by AUAF Helps With Heart Health Needs

Whether it’s meals and medications, assisting with light housekeeping so that seniors have more time to exercise, or helping to schedule appointments with medical professionals, the professionals at Home Care Powered by AUAF will help seniors stay active and keep their hearts healthy. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out more about how in-home care for seniors can help.

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