It’s National Cholesterol Education Month for Seniors in Chicago!

National Cholesterol Education Month for Seniors: For seniors living in the city of Chicago, September means several things: school getting back into session later than you think it should; the Bears getting off to a disappointing start; the weather going from 85 degrees to 50 degrees (and back) in the course of 36 hours. Now add National Cholesterol Education Month to the list. Why National Cholesterol Education Month? Because more than 102 million Americans have high cholesterol. And more than a third of those people, mostly older adults, have total cholesterol levels that put them at risk for heart disease.

Ok, It’s National Cholesterol Education Month, So Educate Me

If you were paying attention in biology class (admit it, you weren’t) you may have learned that there are two different types of cholesterol. They are:

  • High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL Cholesterol), known as the good cholesterol. It’s good because it carries cholesterol back to your liver, which then filters it out and gets rid of it.
  • Low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL Cholesterol), which is the bad cholesterol. This is the one that can build up on the walls of your blood vessels and increase your risk of heart disease.

So while a normal blood test measures your total blood cholesterol, it’s really two different numbers that make a difference. And while increasing good cholesterol is important, it’s far more important to reduce the bad kind.

Where Does This Cholesterol Come From and How Do I Avoid It?

We get cholesterol from the foods we eat, especially foods that are high in saturated fat. Processed meats are also generally high in cholesterol (sorry, that Chicago-style hot dog is probably not a great idea, even if you avoid putting ketchup on it). But you can get “good” cholesterol from your diet as well. Lean fish, avocados, olive oil, beans and vegetables can all help raise your good cholesterol while lowering the bad cholesterol. And despite what you used to hear, eggs are not necessarily a bad cholesterol food in moderation. Before you start any type of new diet, it’s important to talk to your medical professional.

Does Anything Besides Food Affect My Cholesterol? (You’re Going To Say Smoking, Aren’t You…)

Besides your diet, exercise can help reduce cholesterol. Family history may affect cholesterol levels, as there is some genetic component to how our bodies retain cholesterol. And yes, of course, smoking makes your cholesterol worse. Cholesterol levels also rise somewhat naturally with age.

What Else Does Cholesterol Affect?

Having high cholesterol is a risk factor for many issues that can lower your quality of life, such as stroke and heart attack. But lowering your cholesterol may have an unexpected benefit, in that it may help you avoid COVID. The research on this is new, and of course the most effective way to prevent COVID is by getting one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines.

How Do I Get My Cholesterol Checked?

Experts suggest you get your cholesterol checked every 5 years at least. But your medical professional will likely order cholesterol checks as part of routine blood work for your annual physical. If you’d still like to get it checked without a visit to the doctor, check with your local senior services. Many senior centers will sponsor cholesterol screenings as a community service as part of Cholesterol Education Month.

Home Care Services Can Help You Maintain Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Because so much of keeping a healthy cholesterol level is about what you eat, having an at-home caregiver to help with meal preparation and planning is especially important. Whether it’s incorporating cholesterol-friendly ingredients like avocados, or cutting out fried foods, an in-home care aide is a big step toward making sure your cholesterol is in check.

Home Care Powered by AUAF Help Seniors In Chicago

Our caregivers and staff know how to keep you or your elderly loved ones living independently and healthily, during National Cholesterol Education Month and beyond. There are many more benefits to having some help at home for seniors. Give us a call at (773) 274-9262 or contact us to find out more about how Home Care Powered by AUAF gives you and your family the care and peace of mind you need.

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