Since 2002, heart disease has been one of the leading causes of death for seniors aged 65 and up. Until now, it is still considered America’s number one killer and major contributor of disability for older adults.
Some of the most common heart problems that warrant hospital visits and confinement for most elderlies include:
- Heart failure and heart attack
- Atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rate)
- Coronary artery disease (blockage in heart arteries)
- Dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged and weakened heart ventricle)
Fortunately, these heart illnesses are preventable. Aging may be a primary risk factor for them, but it’s possible to beat the odds and live a life that’s free from fatal heart problems. You or your loved one can prevent chronic heart conditions by staying on top of your heart health so you can experience your golden years to the fullest.
Here are seven heart-healthy tips and lifestyle changes you can do in your assisted living in Palm Springs to keep your heart healthy as you age.
1.) Keep a Healthy Diet
The food you regularly eat says a lot about your current heart state. For instance, favoring fatty and processed meals with little to no nutrients can definitely contribute to your risk of developing heart problems in the future.
But it’s never too late to change course and follow a heart-healthy diet. According to nutrition experts, it is not about the number of unhealthy foods you eat but the lack of healthy ones that goes into your system, which compromises your cardiovascular system.
So, here are some heart-healthy foods and diet practices to follow to keep your heart protected:
- Put more leafy greens and fruits on your plate.
- Stick to low-fat protein sources, such as lean meat, low-fat dairy products, fish, and legumes.
- Go for foods with lots of healthy fats, like salmon, mackerel, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado.
- Reduce salt and use herbs and spices instead to flavor your meals.
- Control your portion sizes.
Additionally, you can follow a healthy diet plan that promotes heart health, such as the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet. However, it’s important to seek the opinion and recommendation of your doctor first before following a diet strategy.
2.) Get Moving
Of course, a healthy diet is best partnered with regular exercise to maintain a healthy body and mind. Furthermore, improving your physical fitness will reduce your risk for heart diseases or other chronic conditions that may lead to heart problems, such as hypertension and high cholesterol.
The WHO recommends seniors to exercise at least 30 minutes daily with low to moderate-intensity workouts. You can even start with low-impact activities for 15 minutes, then amp it up as your body adapts to this new lifestyle.
Some of the best and most senior-friendly aerobic exercises include brisk walking, cycling, gardening, dancing, and swimming.
3.) Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity and being overweight is deemed a “silent heart risk” by health experts as it can single handedly injure the heart and cause cardiovascular problems. This happens when hearts overwork themselves to compensate for the increased blood supply needs of obese individuals, leading to high blood pressure.
Additionally, too much fat in the body means a higher amount of cholesterol, which can clog your arteries over time. So by maintaining a healthy weight, you get to preserve your heart’s health and even save yourself from other chronic conditions, like diabetes and cancers.
4.) Quit Smoking and Other Vices
Staying on top of your heart health involves many lifestyle changes, including giving up bad habits, like smoking and drinking.
Smoking, whether in excess or not, damages the lungs and weakens the heart over time. In addition, studies showed that cigarette or tobacco smoke, even second hand exposure, contains harmful chemicals that will mix into your blood and harm your blood vessels and heart.
At the same time, excessive alcohol drinking can cause abnormalities in your heart rate, blood pressure, and the integrity of your heart muscles. Over time, this can cause hypertension on top of liver and kidney problems.
5.) Minimize Stress
Assisted living in Palm Springs strives to provide seniors with a relaxing and stress-free environment. This is because stress is a significant risk factor to many chronic conditions and can trigger fatal heart illnesses, such as heart attack and angina.
Furthermore, chronic stress weakens the immune system, making you vulnerable to other physical and mental diseases. So, make sure to minimize unnecessary stress by engaging in these enriching activities:
- Learning relaxation techniques, like deep breathing and mindfulness meditation.
- Doing yoga and tai-chi.
- Staying connected with friends and family.
- Participating in activities that you enjoy, whether it’s bingo or chilling with your pet.
When stress becomes overwhelming, it’s okay to talk about your worries and problems with friends and loved ones. However, it is also helpful to seek professional mental help from trusted counselors and psychiatrists.
6.) Get Enough Sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep every night can help you ensure the health of your body systems and mental welfare. On the other hand, lack of rest and sleep increases one’s risk of heart diseases and other chronic conditions leading to cardiovascular illnesses (e.g., diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure).
According to health experts, older adults should have at least 7 to 8 hours of rest every night to give the body ample time to energize and recover for the next day.
7.) Don’t Skip Doctor’s Appointments
Healthy habits and lifestyle changes are not enough to protect your heart from chronic diseases. It is also crucial to regularly visit your doctor for check-ups, screenings, and health updates. This way, you and your loved one can learn about your health risks, understand the symptoms of heart diseases, and discuss early preventive plans.
Furthermore, regular check-ups will allow your doctor to diagnose any diseases early on before it’s too late. Your primary care physician can also set healthy diet plans and strategies for better heart health.
Incorporate all these healthy habits into your daily routine, and you’ll find yourself free from heart worries as you enjoy your time in the best assisted living in Palm Springs.