Elderly Heart HealthWe’re back with another blog post about heart health, and this time, it’s about preventing heart disease.

It’s important for everyone to lead a heart-healthy lifestyle, but it’s especially crucial for the elderly. With age, the heart becomes less efficient and has to work harder to pump blood through the body. Blood vessels also lose elasticity and the development of fatty deposits, known as atherosclerosis, becomes more of a risk.

So here are some tips to not only show love to your heart and lead a healthy lifestyle, but also to prevent heart disease:

1. Say No to Smoking – Smoking not only increases risk of cardiovascular disease, but also leads to other adverse health conditions. If you’ve been meaning to talk to your loved one about his or her smoking habit, now is the perfect time. Here are some uplifting stats from the Cleveland Clinic: 24 hours after quitting, the chance of a heart attack decreases, and one year after quitting, risk of heart disease is reduced by 50 percent!

2. Say Yes to Exercise — One of the best ways to show the heart love is to get it pumping. It’s especially important for your elderly loved one to remain as active as possible. Medical experts recommend 30 minutes daily, which your loved one can break into three 10-minute sessions. And remember, walking counts as exercise! Go on a 30-minute walk with your loved one for some heart-happy quality time together.

Exercise Extras: Keeping active also enhances circulation, helps with healthy weightmaintenance, aids in smoking cessation, improves cholesterol levels and reduces stress.It also decreases risk of stroke by 20 percent in moderately active people and by 27percent in highly active people!

3. Say No to Unhealthy Food — This section deserves a few sub-sections… because it’s that important.

Cut back on unhealthy fat — This means saturated and trans fats. Experts recommend that saturated fats make up less than 7 percent of daily calories and that trans fats be cut out completely. Remember, it’s not about cutting out all fats — good fats likemonounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and omega-3s are not only good for theheart, but they’re necessary for mental functioning/concentration and help to managemood, fight fatigue and control weight.

Lower cholesterol – Make sure your loved one’s diet is full of foods high in soluble fiber(like oatmeal, kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes) and omega-3 fatty acids(like salmon or albacore tuna, canola oil and ground flax seed). Fish oil supplements aregood for those who aren’t fans of fish. Also, nuts like walnuts and almonds are excellentfor lowering cholesterol… and while they’re on the list of foods that contain “good fat,”the fat content is pretty high, so keep the portion sizes moderate!

Kick fruits & veggies in high gear – Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber, low in caloriesand contain substances that help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Reduce salt intake – This means cutting back on processed foods and decreasing theamount of salt you or your loved one add while cooking and eating. Avoiding theaddition of salt altogether is always a good idea.

Eat with moderation & variety – You know those huge portions you get at restaurants? They’re not idea for a healthy diet of moderation, especially for someone who is less active due to age or handicap. Make sure your loved one’s portion sizes are sensible. Also, make sure he or she is eating a variety of foods. Here’s what a healthy plate lookslike: 1/2 colorful veggies, 1/4 meat, poultry, fish, tofu or legumes and 1/4 whole grainproducts.

4. Say Yes to the Doctor – Make sure your loved one is visiting the doctor regularly to check up cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Eating well and exercising aren’t the only ways to promote wellness; sometimes, medications are necessary.

You care for your loved one with all your heart. That’s a fact. So show your love by making sure that he or she is leading a heart-healthy lifestyle. Also, consider a Griswold-referred caregiver to keep track of medications, nutrition and appointments!

We hope you enjoyed this post! Subscribe to our blog or check back soon for our next heart-healthy topic: signs and symptoms of a heart attack

If you have any healthy heart tips that you’ve found to be useful, please share them in the comments below!