A healthy heart is the foundation of a healthy life and good health, especially for seniors. It is especially important to know how to live a heart healthy life given the rate of heart disease in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Every year approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the U.S.– that’s 1 in every 4 deaths.
Whether a senior is active or housebound, the right foods and activities can contribute to a healthy heart. If you are caring for a senior loved one here are some of the things you should know about heart healthy habits in the home.
Shop Well, Eat Well
Buying the right foods that are nutritious for the heart is the foundation of a heart healthy diet. When shopping, keep in mind the mantra “buy a rainbow of foods”. When you buy foods like red and yellow peppers, green lettuce and grapes, purple plums and other colorful produce, you purchase the foods that are high in heart healthy nutrients and fiber while being low in fat and salt.
Frozen and canned foods can be good for the heart as well. Read the labels to make sure the canned food is not high in sodium. Foods that are flash frozen retain all of their important nutrients. It’s a great way to get nutritious fruits and vegetables during the winter months when they may not be readily available or are too expensive for the grocery budget.
Whether seniors are highly mobile or housebound, there are exercises they can perform that are beneficial for the heart. One clinical study showed that exercise improved seniors’ ability to complete activities of daily living like bathing, grooming and preparing food. Here are some chair exercises from Livestrong that are easy to perform and that improve circulation and heart health.
Keep the heels on the ground and bend the toes up toward the ceiling and back to the ground. To increase the range of motion, sit toward the edge of chair with the legs straight and the heel touching the ground. In this position, point the toes down towards the ground and then up towards the ceiling. Repeat these exercises eight to 10 times. This exercise strengthens the muscles in the lower front and rear of your legs, which is used for daily activities like walking up and down stairs.
Sit on the edge of the chair for a greater range of motion. Holding the arms out in front with thumbs toward the ceiling and the elbows bent, draw both elbows back as far as possible while squeezing the shoulder blades together. Release and repeat eight to 10 times. This may also be done one arm at a time pulling the shoulder blade in towards the spine. This exercise works the chest and upper back muscles.
Sitting tall in the chair, shrug both shoulders up toward the ears and slowly rotate them to the back, down, around to the front, and back to the top. Repeat and switch directions, rotating them towards the front and around to the back. Alternate directions 10 times. Performing this movement engages your shoulders and traps, which are essential to lifting objects.
Drinking fluids is essential to a healthy heart. Water is the best to keep the body hydrated but coffee, tea, seltzer and other low or no sugar drinks can hydrate the body as well. Generally it is recommended that a person drink six to eight 8 ounce glasses of fluid a day to remain adequately hydrated.
Every year about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. You can help a loved one to prevent heart disease and avoid heart attack by following heart healthy lifestyle habits at home.
If you or your family member is considering in-home care as part of a plan to age in place, contact Family Matters In-Home Care today for a free consultation. Our team is dedicated to supporting your family and helping older adults enjoy life in the comfort of their own home for as long as possible.
Some of the services offered by Family Matter In-Home Care include: Alzheimer’s & Dementia Care, Bed & Wheelchair Transfer Assistance, Companionship, Housekeeping & Meal Preparation, Personal Care, Recovery Care, and Transportation.