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5 Heart Healthy Habits for Seniors in Assisted Living
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women, but the risk of heart problems is often overlooked–seniors in particular.
February is American Heart Month, and it is an important reminder to take steps toward reducing our risk of heart disease and learning heart healthy habits for seniors.
As Senior Advisors, we have heard from our clients how their senior loved one was alone when they had a heart attack or stroke and didn’t even realize it was happening. Most of the time, if there was someone there to recognize the signs and get the medical attention they needed immediately, the senior would have fewer complications and recover quicker.
There are steps you can take to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease. Many of these steps are already incorporated in assisted living communities! While the majority of us do not want to leave the comfort of our own home (and believe me, we get it), you or your loved one may no longer be safe at home alone and ultimately could be missing out on the chance to not only reduce health complications but make friends and prolong a mental decline from isolation.
Below, we share five heart healthy habits for seniors and really all of us who can benefit:
- Stay active
By exercising regularly you can help lower your blood pressure, increase your energy levels and keep your heart and bones strong. Professionals say that 30-60 minutes, five days a week is enough exercise to lower your risk of heart disease. (Remember to talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program.) In assisted living communities, exercise classes are provided and often encouraged! Walking groups, pool aerobics, chair yoga, you name it, are just some of the programs offered. Once you get into the routine, especially with friends, it’ll be easier to stick with it.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
Enjoying a diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, fiber and lean proteins, as well as low in saturated fats, sugars, and salt, is key to keeping your heart strong and maintaining a healthy weight. Three chef-prepared meals are provided daily at assisted living communities with options! And it’s not just soup and sandwiches. We are talking about gourmet meals like filet mignon, fresh salmon, descendant desserts, and much more. So not only do you not have to worry about what to cook every day, you are eating heart-healthy meals approved by a registered dietician.
- Keep your diabetes, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol under control
Two of the major risks for heart disease are high blood pressure, or stiffness of the large arteries which becomes common with age, and high blood cholesterol, which can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. In assisted living communities, there are caregivers and nursing staff right outside your apartment! They provide care tailored to your needs and ensure your diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol are regulated. All communities offer low sodium and diabetic-friendly diets so you can still enjoy the beauty in life (food in my opinion) without the worry of damaging your health.
- Minimize stress
Though it may not be directly linked to heart disease, chronic stress can cause heart rate and blood pressure to rise, damage the artery walls and weaken the immune system. Assisted living communities can help minimize stress in a number of ways. No longer will you have to worry about the upkeep of the house (yard work, maintenance, cleaning), cleaning will be a thing of the past, and you’ll never have to touch your laundry again (that is, if that’s what you prefer). In assisted living, you can do as little or as much as you like when it comes to housekeeping, but they provide daily housekeeping and laundry services, so you don’t have to! Plus, three heart healthy meals are provided as mentioned above and care staff to assist with bathing, dressing, etc. if needed. Doctors even come on-site, so you don’t have to leave the community for appointments unless desired.
- Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is key to good health and well-being. It’s an important time to support healthy brain function and maintain general good health, but not enough Americans get the recommended hours of sleep each day. Over time, sleeping less than 5 hours a day can increase your risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and even dementia some studies show. While ensuring you get enough sleep at night is entirely up to you to a degree, assisted living communities provide several steps to improve your sleep habits such as: a routine to help you go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, quiet time during the evening and several activities throughout the day, so by the time bedtime rolls around, you’ll be longing for your bed There are other steps to take like avoiding nicotine and caffeine right before bedtime as well as intentionally staying up late at night and sleeping all day.
North Star Senior Advisors Can Help Locate Assisted Living for Free
If you or a loved one is suffering from heart disease or any other health condition that makes everyday tasks more difficult, learn more about assisted living and how it can tremendously improve your loved ones’ life. Whether you are planning for the future, dealing with a chronic illness like heart disease, or just need life support/guidance, North Star Senior Advisors & Care Managers are here for you.
Don’t know the difference between Senior Advisors and Care Managers?
Call us today at 407-796-1582 for a free consultation as we will explain the differences and provide as many resources as possible for your senior loved one. You may also visit www.northstarsa.com to fill out a form and have an experienced team member reach out at your requested call-back time.