|5 Tips for a healthy heaert|
Heart health is integral to quality of life at any age, and it’s an important cause for us here at The CareGiver Partnership. People of all ages and levels of mobility can take steps toward better heart health. Let’s get started with some basics:
1. Eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and healthy oils found in fish and nuts. A good rule of thumb is to buy fresh, whole foods whenever possible. However, frozen foods are an acceptable alternative to fresh produce and a practical choice for seniors who can’t shop frequently. Instead of unhealthy fats, sugars and salt, add flavor with herbs, spices, salt-free blends and lemon juice.
For those who find grocery shopping or cooking difficult, there are helpful services like Mom’s Meals, which delivers nutritionally balanced, freshly prepared meals to customers’ homes. Designed to meet the needs of an aging population, each meal contains fresh foods, is microwaveable and will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks. Mom’s Meals menus include specialty choices like low-sodium, low-fat, gluten-free and more.
2. Participate in an exercise program based on your level of mobility. Exercise is one step toward better heart health. With a doctor’s permission, any exercise can be part of a fitness routine, including gardening, dancing, walking and using light hand weights while watching TV. Activities that get your heart and blood circulation moving, make you feel stronger and keep you flexible can be good choices.
3. Reduce stress and quit unhealthy habits. A doctor may be able to help curb unhealthy habits, for example helping with smoking cessation. Even alcohol use can cause problems when it becomes a substitute for food or prevents nutrient absorption.
Those suffering from stress or hypertension may want to ask their doctors about nondrug therapies, such as using a device like RESPeRATE to reduce blood pressure through the use of bio feedback and deep-breathing exercises.
4. Make dental care a priority. Dental problems not only can cause trouble eating, but oral problems also can contribute to heart disease. Every senior should have the tools needed for proper oral and dental care, including brushes, paste, mouthwash, floss, picks and a tongue scraper. Those with oral complications may want to consider disposable, ready-to-use oral swabs.
5. Participate in regular health screenings. These may include, but are not limited to, checking cholesterol levels and other blood work, mammography, screening for colorectal and other types of cancer, diabetes, hearing tests, and vision exams with eyeglass fittings. At regular appointments, be sure to talk to your, or your elderly family member’s, doctor about medications, health problems or weight loss, and nutrition supplementation.
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Dianna Malkowski is a board-certified physician assistant and registered dietitian specializing in diabetes, cancer, wound healing, therapeutic diets and nutrition support. She serves on the board of professional advisers for The CareGiver Partnership and enjoys working with patients and caregivers alike. Ask Dianna a question.
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