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What You Need to Know About Seniors and Heart Disease

By Home Care Assistance, 9:00 am on February 6, 2015

Heart disease, an umbrella term for issues relating to plaque buildup in the arteries, is the leading cause of death in the United States. Although some factors are uncontrollable, like family history, there’s plenty you can do to help your senior loved one lower his or her risk of heart disease. Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care in Phoenix, offers the following information to help family caregivers better understand heart disease.

Common Signs of Heart Disease

  • Shortness of breath
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Cold sweats, nausea, or light-headedness
  • Chest pain that lasts longer than a few minutes
  • Atherosclerosis – Narrowing and hardening of arteries. Signs can be numbness and pain in the arms and legs.
  • Palpitations – Sensations of fluttering, skipping, or rapid heartbeats.

Controllable Risks

  •  Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Unhealthy diet
  • No exercise

Ways to Lower Risk

  1. Check blood pressure on a regular basis. You can check your senior loved one’s blood pressure at home with a blood pressure monitor, at the local pharmacy, or his or her doctor’s office.
  2. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Ideal forms of exercise for seniors are dancing, swimming, walking, yoga, and tai chi. Other ways to incorporate exercise throughout the day are taking the stairs, parking at the back of the lot, and cleaning. The American Heart Association recommends exercising for 30 minutes a day five times per week. It’s okay if exercise is broken up into increments throughout the day.
  3. Take medication or heart-healthy supplements. Keep a regular dosing schedule. If your senior loved one has trouble taking medications at the right time, a Phoenix, AZ caregiver can assist with timely medication reminders.
  4. Minimize stress. Stress can cause narrowed arteries and high blood pressure, and being chronically upset can trigger a heart attack. Make sure your senior loved one takes time each day to relax, whether that’s reading, listening to music, meditating, prayer, journaling, or exercising. Whatever helps him or her unwind, make sure 30 minutes each day are carved out for that activity.

Create an Action Plan

If we are being honest, seniors can be stubborn and resist making changes, even if it’s for their benefit. Creating a step-by-step action plan can help facilitate positive changes. Try just one lifestyle change at a time and keep at it for one month until it becomes habit. One way to show support and recognize the healthy changes your senior loved one is making is with small rewards like an outing to the movies, a new item of clothing, a massage, or a special dinner.

It’s never too early to take preventative measures, especially where our senior loved ones are concerned. That said, secure in-home care for your senior loved one and ensure they are eating well, staying active, and taking medications as directed when you can’t be there. Home Care Assistance provides hourly and live-in care, as well as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and stroke care in Phoenix. Our caregivers are highly-trained, compassionate, and available around-the-clock. To learn more, call (602) 388-1085. Our Care Managers are happy to answer any questions you may have or schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.