As your parents and loved ones start to age, it’s natural to become concerned about their health. While certain changes will be easy to detect such as decreased mobility or difficulty hearing, it’s also important to keep things that are not so easy to observe in mind, like heart health. In honor of American Heart Month, a campaign to increase awareness about heart disease in the United States, the Philadelphia stroke care experts from Home Care Assistance wanted to share three simple lifestyle changes that can promote better cardiovascular health for your loved one.
Change Diet to Include Whole Grains
Whole grains provide both insoluble and soluble fiber that helps reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol absorbed in the intestines. When these grains are processed, they lose this quality. Change your loved one’s diet to include various sources of whole grains, such as wheat breads and pastas. Brown rice should also be used to replace plain, white rice.
When selecting a product, make sure your loved one reads the label. It should explicitly state the item is made from whole grain. If your parent does not want to change all at once, start small by switching to whole wheat bread. Then, try whole grain pasta once they have become accustomed to the taste. You can also do blends of half whole grain pasta with white pasta or half whole grain rice with white rice to help ease the transition.
Reduce the Use of the Salt Shaker at Meal Time
Too much dietary salt can increase blood pressure and damage the heart. Reducing the use of a saltshaker at meal times can help limit the amount ingested. Encourage your parent to taste their food before adding salt. Also, ask them to add less at each meal until their taste buds adapt to the reduction of flavor.
Exercise 15 Minutes Every Day
Adding just 15 minutes of exercise to your loved one’s daily routine can have an impact on their cardiovascular health. It reduces their blood pressure, strengthens the heart muscle and aids the kidneys in regulating blood flow.
If your loved one is able to walk, have them start taking short walks every day, even if for only five minutes. They can then gradually increase the time. For seniors with minor mobility problems, it may be a good idea to have them first start walking with a family member or caregiver to ensure safety. And even if your parent does not move well, there are gentle exercises they can try. Tai Chi involves slow movements that can be performed in a chair.
Implementing Small Changes Today for a Better Tomorrow
Although these seem like small changes, they can have an enormous impact on your elderly parent’s heart health. If your loved one is resistant to the changes, encourage them to make one change every week or two.
For more information about heart healthy living for seniors, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care in Philadelphia, and learn more about our holistic approach to care, the Balanced Care Method. We offer complimentary, no-obligation consultations and are available to answer questions 24/7 – call 215-645-4633 today!