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It’s never too late to care for your heart

Q: As an aging adult I am sadly aware of the number of friends and relatives who have passed away over the last few years. What has come as a big shock to me is two close friends have recently been hospitalized for cardiac events. Both of these individuals appeared to be healthy for their age and remained active. This is a huge concern for me and I wonder what steps older adults should be taking to try and be “heart healthy”?

A:   February is all about the love. On Valentines Day we had a chance to express affection and devotion to those who hold a special place in our heart. Along the same theme since 1964 February has been recognized as American Heart Month, this is not only a time to think about others but to also focus on self love.

The American Heart Association reports 43 million adults age 60 and older have some degree of cardiovascular disease. It is estimated 2.300 Americans die each day as a result of this condition. These statistics should serve as a wake up call to all of us that it is never too late to make changes to reduce our own risk of a future cardiac event. While age and family history is out of our control we do have the ability to focus on healthy choices today and tomorrow.

It is a little unrealistic to suddenly transform ourselves and the pressure of doing so might end up in failure. Modest changes in diet and lifestyle can be achieved if we put forth a little effort. It is recommended to exercise 30 minutes five days a week. Understandably everyone doesn’t have the financial resources to invest in a gym membership but there are many ways to incorporate additional physical activity into your everyday life. Think about taking the stairs up a flight or two instead of using the elevator, park further away from the entrance to the grocery store, check out any exercise classes offered at your local senior center or adult education programs. Talk with your friends and neighbors who might be interested in forming a buddy system to walk with, you could support each other on this journey.

Eating better helps to control cholesterol, lowers blood sugar, mange blood pressure, helps with weight management and reduces the impact on other existing medical conditions. Try introducing more vegetables, fruits, fiber-rich whole grains, fish and lean meats into daily meals. Cut back on saturated fats and foods with high sugar content. Most of us are already aware of the importance of not smoking, limiting alcohol intake and managing stress all of which are essential in living better.

What may not be as obvious is the positive impact of socialization and staying involved with family, friends and the community. Each day reassess what you would like to focus on and what new changes you can make in your life.

 

Are you struggling caring for an older adult or having difficulty locating resources? Our experienced staff are available for no cost consultations in the home, office or community. For additional information or to schedule an appointment call 1-800-892-0890.

Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to ageinfo@esmv.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc., AgeInfo Department, 280 Merrimack Street, Suite 400, Lawrence, MA 01843. Joan Hatem-Roy is the CEO of Elder Services.