Tips for Improving Heart Health for Seniors: American Heart Month
February was declaired as American Heart Month to raise awareness about heart health and the importance of taking care of your heart. Heart health is important for our overall well-being and quality of life. Taking steps to maintain a healthy heart can help to prevent heart disease, stroke, and other related health issues. Eating a balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fiber, along with regular exercise, are two of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy heart. Regular check-ups with your doctor and monitoring your cholesterol levels are also essential for keeping your heart in tip-top shape. Taking the time to focus on your heart health can help you to enjoy a longer and healthier life.
- Start With Your Plate
Many changes we can make to celebrate American heart month include a fork. Even if you've never been good at fractions, try to divide each plate in half. On one half, make sure you have some fruit and lots of veggies, both fresh and cooked in a healthy fashion. French fries don't count, but a baked sweet potato would.
On the other half of your plate, add a serving of protein to one quarter and a serving of whole grains.
If you're not confident about making the right choices, consider the following daily goals:
- At each meal, eat something raw. If you have a sandwich for lunch, include a serving of raw carrots or an apple instead of chips
- If you need a snack, try to start with a piece of fruit or a serving of vegetables and give it 20 minutes. If you're still hungry, fix something else.
- Take a hard look at your daily sugar intake. If you always drink flavored water or soda, swap these out for plain or sparkling water at meals.
These small changes can be great for your tastebuds and good for your gut. If your fiber content has been low, make sure you boost your water intake and give your body time to adjust to the new roughage.
- Make Small, Daily Changes in Your Activity Level
Fitness, like heart health for seniors, isn't something you can cram for. You have to work on it every day. If your morning routine includes coffee and a newspaper, stop having the paper delivered so you have to walk to the corner to buy one. If that isn't an option, find a podcast that you enjoy and get some earbuds. As you listen, walk. However, if your mobility is limited, talk with your home care professional about tasks you can take on. If you have someoen to assist you with your housework, ask them to clean up while you vacuum after them. For example, if they do the laundry, you can fold it and put things away after they carry the basket to your bedroom.
- Pay Attention to Your Mindset
The past few years have been a very nervous time. If you've been lonely or anxious, you're not alone. Now is the time to change up the tools that you use to connect with the world. Reach out to your caregivers for recommendations on a tech guru; someone who can help you learn to manage Zoom meetings or handle a smartphone. With these tools, you can connect with family and friends. Such appointments will also give you wonderful conversations to look forward to.
- Talk to Your Doctor
Ask your doctor to perform a simple cholesterol test to inform you if you’re at risk and should make adjustments to your diet. In addition to tests for cholesterol and monitoring your blood pressure, be ready to ask for additional help. If there are habits that you know are not good for you or are dangerous to your mental health, it may be time to talk to a healthcare professional.
- Connect With a Caregiver
Recipients of New York State Medicaid can use the CDPAP program to compensate their senior care providers. If you require assistance with daily living, or if you need help improving heart health for seniors, assistance is available.
Reach out to Elite Choice and learn more about our services and about getting help for yourself or a senior in need of health support. The option to stay healthy in your home is out there. You can get assistance to help you build healthier heart habits.
Written by: Leah Ganz
Leah Ganz, RN, BSN is the Director of Patient Services at Elite Home Health Care. She has an extensive background in homecare and previously worked in various specialties including pediatrics, pain management and internal medicine. She oversees all patient services across Elite's departments.