When it comes to contracting heart disease, there are a few factors that cannot be controlled.
Put simply, the older you are, the more you are at risk of heart disease. In fact:
- The risk of developing heart disease increases for men as early as age 45; and
- Women who have gone through menopause or are over age 55 experience increased risk.
Moreover, according to the Heart & Stroke 2018 Heart Report, heart disease is the leading cause of premature death for women in Canada. (Much of this is because heart disease in women has been under-detected and under-researched for years.)
That’s why it’s especially important for all seniors to focus on improving their overall health.
Factors you can control
The Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada provides a plethora of tips and guidance for decreasing the risk of heart disease, including:
And yes, all of those things sound relatively simple to do…right?
Unfortunately, caring for oneself at home can become more problematic with age. For example, as seniors grow older, they may:
- Start staying indoors more often—and not getting exercise
- Minimize or no longer have social interactions with others—and not having stress-relieving conversations
- Stop getting the nutrients they need—for example, only drinking tea and eating toast
With heart disease being so prevalent, how can you ensure the senior in your life—whether it’s your mom, dad, relative or friend—is reducing their risk instead of increasing it?
Helping your loved one prevent heart disease
If your loved one is not taking care of themselves in their own home, here are a few simple ideas to help them reduce the risk of heart disease:
- Encourage them to take a risk assessment. The Heart & Stroke Foundation has a free online tool that enables you to assess your risk for heart disease. People who take the assessment receive personalized results, including goals to help reduce risks. Check out this risk assessment from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute as well.
- Download a motivational app. If the senior in your life has a smartphone and is somewhat tech-savvy, help them download an app that provides healthy reminders. The Heart & Stroke Foundation’s <30 Days App “delivers a pocketful of motivation with small actions that target your personal heart disease and stroke risk factors.” It’s free and available for iPhone and Android.
- Consider smoking cessation products. Smoking is a major cause of heart disease. If your senior is a smoker, look into cessation products or have them talk to their doctor about medical methods of quitting.
- Ensure their blood pressure is stable. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease. If your loved one has high blood pressure, ensure it’s being monitored and that they’re taking their medication regularly.
- Help them eat healthier. Encourage them to reduce their salt intake when cooking, and by limiting processed foods. Consider taking them grocery shopping, to ensure they are getting heart-healthy foods that are low in cholesterol and fat. There are also lots of healthy meal delivery/preparation companies around, which will bring nutritious meals right to their doorstep. Simply Google “meal delivery services Ottawa” and the search results will pull up a ton of businesses!
- Get them active…and out among people. Even if they have limited mobility, you can help your loved one stay active. For example, take them shopping with you—an outdoor market is a wonderful idea for combining exercise with fresh air! In the colder months, walking in an enclosed mall is another option. Or encourage them to register for an exercise class through the City of Ottawa; you can check out their recreation programs for “older adults” here. The University of Ottawa Heart Institute also offers Heart Wise Exercise programs throughout all of Ottawa. All of this will also help reduce stress.
Help is available!
The good news is that there are tons of heart disease-related resources available to help seniors and caregivers. And many of them are tailored to Canada, if not specific to Ottawa.
Learn more about Tea & Toast’s complimentary retirement living search service! We can find the perfect home for you or your loved one. Contact us today at email@example.com or 613-698-1319.