Heart disease is a factor in 1 of every 4 deaths.
Did you know that?
How about that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both women and men in the US?
Did you also know that heart disease often can be prevented?
So what are we waiting for? Why are we not doing more to improve our health outcomes when it comes to being heart healthy?
Maybe you also don’t know (unless you’re a regular Senior Care Corner® reader) it is never too late to make an impact on our health – at any age?
Small Steps Lead to Big Rewards!
We all know that making changes in our lifestyle will improve our heart health. We also know from recent research that improving our heart health will also improve our brain health.
When we are family caregivers, we are concerned not only with ourselves and our immediate family but also the health of the senior for whom we care.
There are small things that we can all, including our senior loved ones, do to make changes that will help our hearts be healthier.
- Substitute spices, herbs and flavored vinegars for the salt we typically use in cooking and at the table.
- Read food labels and select foods with less sodium, making more heart healthy choices overall.
- Quit smoking.
- Increase levels of activity for both you and your senior loved one through walking and other activities you enjoy.
- Manage your weight and help your senior manage hers to get it into a more healthy range.
- Have your blood pressure checked regularly as well as your senior’s and control it if it is higher than it should be; one in three adults have high blood pressure and many are unaware.
- Know your numbers and your senior’s so you both know what steps to focus on for improvement. If you haven’t done it lately, get a health checkup so you can get your numbers.
Community Events for Caregivers and Seniors
There will be many events around town to increase awareness of the importance of caring for our hearts. Consider making plans to attend to learn more and spread awareness in those you know and love.
Here are a few events for which you should be on the lookout this month:
- CPR classes. It is a good idea for everyone to learn the basics of CPR. You never know when some of this information could come in handy.
- Wear RED on National Wear Red Day and encourage everyone you know to do the same to promote awareness of heart health.
- Attend a health fair where you can get free blood pressure screenings and information from healthcare professionals.
- Attend a health session that includes heart health information at your local hospital, library or senior center.
- Attend an online chat about heart health or read a health-related blog.
- Register as an organ donor for National Donor Day on February 14.
- Attend a Go Red For Women event in your community, such as a Fashion Show.
- Join a heart walk in your community.
- Order a red dress pin and wear it proudly, spreading the message of heart health.
There will be more events and perhaps one particularly of interest to you and your senior in which you can participate. Keep your eye out for dates and times in your locale! By supporting these you will not only help yourselves, but others as well when well attended events get repeated annually!
Resources for You and Your Senior
There are many resources that can help you learn more about heart disease, what are the risks for development, how to prevent heart disease and many other areas including tools you may find useful.
- Heart Risk Assessment Tool for Estimating Your 10-year Risk of Having a Heart Attack
- Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack
- Heart Healthy Quizzes – a variety of topics including fats, stroke, cholesterol, dining out
- My Blood Pressure Wallet Card from the National Institutes of Health
- The American Heart Association’s Check Change Control Calculator
- My Life Check – learn about your heart and what you can do to live a healthier life with this from the Heart Association
Eating Right for Heart Health
Many people get confused when they try to eat foods that are good for their heart. There are many messages in the media about superfoods and how they can give us strength as well as what supplements we should be taking daily.
The truth is much simpler than that. Here is some advice from Healthfinder.gov.
When it comes to your heart, what you eat matters. Follow these tips for heart-healthy eating:
- Eat less saturated and trans fat. Stay away from fatty meats, fried foods, cakes, and cookies.
- Cut down on sodium (salt). Look for the low-sodium or “no salt added” types of canned soups, vegetables, snack foods, and lunch meats.
- Get more fiber. You’ll find it in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Be sure you are getting a variety of fruits and vegetables in your senior loved one’s diet, as well as your own. The more colorful the varieties, the more nutrient rich it will be.
- Use low fat or fat free dairy products, many products have added calcium.
- Choose whole grain breads, rolls, rice, pasta, cereals with whole wheat or whole grain as the first ingredient.
- Use lean protein sources such as poultry, beef, pork, beans, eggs and nuts.
- Limit fat overall, but especially saturated fat, and avoid trans fat.
When you are shopping for groceries, look for the Heart-Check mark on the label to find foods that can help you make heart healthy choices.
You’ll be surprised at how little effort is needed, just a few small steps, to be heart healthy and prevent the tragedy of heart disease for you and your seniors!