Let’s get to the “heart” of the matter: heart disease is nothing to take lightly. In fact, it’s the number one cause of death in the United States. Eighty percent of individuals who die of heart disease are 65 or older. Knowing these numbers, it’s easy to see why older adults should make heart health a priority in 2021 (and beyond).
“Heart disease is more common as we age for many different reasons,” says Lynda Marino, Marketing Director of Canterbury Woods Gates Circle. “It becomes harder to exercise due to lack of energy or because of injury, for example. Planning and cooking meals that are heart-healthy can be difficult or too much work. And, of course, lifestyle choices like smoking, poor eating or alcohol abuse can finally start to take their toll on the body.”
While many older adults develop heart disease, the good news is that it’s not a foregone conclusion. While there are genetic factors that can play into developing heart disease, your lifestyle plays a much larger role – and that’s something you can control.
“It’s never too late to start making heart-healthy lifestyle changes that will help you age well and feel well for years to come,” says Lynda.
In honor of February being American Heart Month, here are seven easy tips to give your aging heart a little love.
- Get regular exercise.
One of the best things you can do for your heart (and overall) health is to exercise on a regular basis. For older adults, this is one of the top two things they can do to start improving their health practically instantly. Exercising on a regular basis helps boost mood, improves brain health, strengthens bones and muscles and, of course, helps your cardiovascular system get in the best shape possible. Even something as small as taking a nightly walk can improve your heart health dramatically.
It’s recommended that most older adults exercise about 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Remember that exercise doesn’t have to be hitting the treadmill or pushing yourself too hard. Cleaning, gardening, dancing and playing tennis are all forms of exercise, too. Be sure to find something that you enjoy, and you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
- Eat a healthy diet.
This is the second of two “biggies” for heart health. Diet is what fuels your body, and the better energy you put into it, the healthier you will be. A heart-healthy diet is filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats and low-fat dairy. Shop the outside aisles of the grocery store where the fresher foods are stocked, and avoid the inner aisles where processed, packaged and less nutritious items are located. Limit your intake of salty or sugary foods and instead focus on flavorful, nutritionally dense natural foods. Be sure to speak with your physician about any foods that may interact with medications you’re currently taking.
- Quit smoking.
Smoking is incredibly damaging to heart health, so if you’re a smoker, the very best thing you can do is to kick the habit. Studies have shown that bodies start repairing themselves practically instantly after the last cigarette is smoked, and after a year, an individual will have cut their risk of heart disease in half. While it’s not always easy to break a long-held habit, there are many tools and products that can help. Talk to your doctor to see what might work for your situation.
- See a doctor regularly.
Once a year, see your doctor for a yearly physical and wellness check. This is a great opportunity, even if you’re healthy and don’t have any worrying issues, to check your medications, find out what procedures you may need to do and get a baseline check on your overall health. During the year, if you have any health issues that come up, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor. This can allow you and your doctor to halt any issues before they become serious.
- Reduce your alcohol intake.
While drinking alcohol on an occasional basis doesn’t negatively affect your heart health, drinking regularly or to excess can cause high blood pressure as well as a slew of other health issues. Older adults who drink alcohol should take a look at their intake and be sure to moderate. Talk to your doctor if you have issues or need tools on how to reduce or quit drinking.
- Connect to your inner self.
The benefits of meditation and other mind/body wellness practices have become very popular over the past decade. That’s because it’s been proven to effectively control stress, improve mental clarity and health and so much more. Best of all, it doesn’t require any special equipment and can be done practically anywhere. Even five minutes has been shown to reduce blood pressure practically instantly. If you’ve never meditated before, there are many guided meditations available online that can help you dip your toe into the practice.
- Stay connected to those you care about.
Anyone who’s had a broken heart understands that heart disease isn’t simply a physical ailment. There are many emotional factors that have been linked to poor heart health, like depression, stress and loneliness. It’s important for all of us – not just older adults – to recognize the need for emotional support and connection. Stay in touch with friends and family, whether it’s a daily call, a funny text or a weekly coffee. There’s nothing wrong with reaching out for company and support when needed. In fact, you’ll discover that your friends and family are probably just as eager for connection as you.
Continuum of Care
As a Life Care Community, Canterbury Woods Communities provide a comfortable environment and first-rate services to support every level of need. Assisted living apartments allow Gates Circle residents to benefit from additional support while maintaining their independent lifestyle. If skilled nursing, rehabilitation or memory care is ever needed, residents can experience the support they require at our sister community in Williamsville.
Contact us today to discover more about Canterbury Woods Gates Circle! (716) 427-6678