Health Heartbeat: How Your Heart Changes As You Age

Posted on

Aug 24, 2021

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In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared February American Heart Month to raise awareness and tackle heart disease. While its a great time to highlight heart health and encourage healthy habits, it really takes a year-long, constant effort to keep reduce the risks and especially as you age.
According the American Heart Association, people age 65 and older and more likely to suffer heart attacks, strokes or develop heart disease as a result of limited or lack of activity, unhealthy diets, excessive drinking, smoking; and that aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels. The good news, its never too late to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle that can delay, lower or possibly reverse risks.
Eat More Fruit & Veggies, Eat Less Fat & Salt
Its no surprise, a high salt and fat full diet can do a number on the ticker. Poor diets contribute to higher blood pressure and clogged arteries. By trimming meats, lowering salt and fat intake and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, you'll be on your way toward a heart-healthy diet.
Move More
It doesnt take as much physical activity as you think to get the blood pumping. Nor does it require high-intensity activity to reap the benefits. Walking, water aerobics and gardening are simple ways to move your body and burns calories. Whats more, you only need about 25 minutes per day of physical activity tolower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and Alzheimers and several types of cancer.
Get Plenty of ZZZZs
The more zzzzs, the healthier your heart! At least thats what a study by the American Heart Association found. Fact is, poor sleep quality can lead to high blood pressure which increases risks of heart disease. If youre having trouble sleeping, try getting more sunlight during the day, avoid caffeine in the evening, reduce alcohol consumption and speak to your primary care physician about supplements that may help you sleep more soundly.
Laugh More, Lower Stress
Laughter does the heart good. Laughter is known to reduce stress, relax the body, boost your immune system and endorphins (natural feel-good chemicals), burns calories and yes, protects your heart. Studies show that laughter can improve the function of blood vessels and increase blood flow. And thats no joke!
Drink in Moderation
Excessive alcohol consumption is known to lead to the development of high blood pressure, liver disease, digestive problems, and you got it heart disease. But, not all alcohol is bad especially when consumed in moderation (no more than one glass a day). For example, red wine includes an antioxidant called resveratrol. Resveratrol is known to protect against hypertension, hardening of the arteries, stroke, heart attack and heart failure. We can toast to that!

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Winter Wellness for Seniors

Winter Wellness for SeniorsBy Patrick Troumbley, MS, CSCSBalancing the 8 Pillars of Wellness for Seniors in Winter: Evidence-Based Insights Introduction As winter descends, the well-being of seniors becomes a paramount concern. Aging individuals must navigate the unique challenges that colder temperatures and reduced daylight hours bring. This article delves into the intricacies of balancing the 8 pillars of wellness for seniors during the winter season, substantiating insights with scholarly references. Physical Wellness Physical wellness, a cornerstone of senior health, demands careful attention during winter. Maintaining physical activity is essential for avoiding the adverse effects of inactivity and cold weather. A study by de Rezende et al. (2014) emphasizes the importance of regular physical activity for seniors, citing its role in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Indoor exercises like yoga and chair exercises, as recommended by the American Heart Association (2021), offer viable options to stay active during winter. Mental Wellness The winter months often usher in feelings of isolation and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A study by Melrose (2015) underscores the prevalence of SAD among older adults. Engaging in cognitive stimulation activities can alleviate symptoms. Seniors can find solace in local clubs, virtual classes, and community events, as advocated by Forrester (2017), who highlights the significance of social engagement in mitigating SAD symptoms. Emotional WellnessEmotional wellness hinges on effective emotional regulation. Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are integral components of emotional wellness. A systematic review by Rusch et al. (2019) supports the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress and anxiety. Seniors can access mindfulness resources and guidance on emotional wellness through organizations such as Seniors Blue Book Utah. Social WellnessMaintaining an active social life is pivotal for seniors. The adverse effects of social isolation on senior well-being have been extensively documented (Holt-Lunstad et al., 2015). Seniors are encouraged to participate in local clubs and community events, as promoted by Senior Expos, to foster social connections. Intellectual Wellness Intellectual wellness necessitates ongoing learning and mental stimulation. Seniors can embrace hobbies like reading and learning new languages to foster intellectual growth. A study by Verghese et al. (2003) associates intellectual engagement with a reduced risk of cognitive decline in aging individuals. Occupational Wellness Occupational wellness transcends traditional work and relates to engaging in purposeful activities. Volunteering, as explored in a study by Okun et al. (2016), offers seniors a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Seniors can explore volunteer opportunities through organizations like Seniors Blue Book Utah. Environmental Wellness Winter introduces environmental challenges, such as slippery sidewalks and heating concerns. Seniors must ensure their living environments are safe and comfortable. The National Institute on Aging (2021) provides valuable tips for creating senior-friendly environments. Spiritual Wellness Spiritual wellness revolves around finding meaning and purpose in life. Engaging in spiritual practices, such as meditation and prayer, can provide solace and inner peace. A study by Carlson et al. (2016) explores the positive effects of mindfulness-based spiritual practices on well-being. Conclusion Balancing the 8 pillars of wellness is paramount for senior well-being, especially during the winter months. Evidence-based insights emphasize the need for regular physical activity, cognitive stimulation, social engagement, and emotional regulation. Seniors can access resources and information from reputable organizations like Seniors Blue Book Utah and Senior Expos to aid in their pursuit of wellness. By integrating these scholarly insights into their winter routines, seniors can not only survive but thrive during this season, enjoying a life marked by health, happiness, and purpose. References: American Heart Association. (2021). Recommendations for Physical Activity in Older Adults. Carlson, L. E., et al. (2016). Mindfulness-based interventions for coping with cancer. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1373(1), Rezende, L. F. M., et al. (2014). Physical activity and preventable premature deaths from non-communicable diseases in Brazil. Journal of Public Health, 36(3), 514-522. Forrester, A. (2017). Seasonal affective disorder in older adults: improving mood and well-being through leisure interventions. Activities, Adaptation & Aging, 41(1), 39-53. Holt-Lunstad, J., et al. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation as risk factors for mortality: A meta-analytic review. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 227-237.Melrose, S. (2015). Seasonal affective disorder: An overview of assessment and treatment approaches. Depression Research and Treatment, 2015, 1-6.National Institute on Aging. (2021). Winter Safety Tips for Older Adults. Okun, M. A., et al. (2016). Volunteering by older adults and risk of mortality: A meta-analysis. Psychology and Aging, 31(6), 634-645. Rusch, H. L., et al. (2019). A randomized controlled trial of the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on posttraumatic growth among survivors of interpersonal violence. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 32(6), 936-946. Verghese, J., et al. (2003). Leisure activities and the risk of dementia in the elderly. New England Journal of Medicine, 348(25), 2508-2516.Patrick Troumbley, MS, CSCS

Recognizing signs of Afib

Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) and heart failure are increasing in prevalence worldwide and often associated with poor outcomes. However, some people are not aware they have atrial fibrillation until it is detected when a doctor is listening to the heart with a stethoscope. If you have difficulty breathing, or have chest pains lasting more than a few minutes, it is recommended to seek medical help.  Someone with A-fib can still live a long and active life with treatment from their doctor and self-management.Treatment may include medications, therapy, surgery, or catheter procedures, in order to reset the heart rhythm, control heart rate, and prevent blood clots that can lead to strokes.Self-management includes following a heart-healthy lifestyle with changes such as:Eating heart-healthy foodsExercising regularlyQuit smokingMaintain a healthy weightLimit alcoholKeep blood pressure and cholesterol under controlGet follow-up careLearn more:Atrial fibrillation [Internet] Mayo Clinic. Available from:  

Making Heart Health Choices

When it comes to health, theres a lot of misleading or outdated information. You really dont need a miracle diet; some magic beans, or snake oil to make an impact on your overall well-being. Many people think that taking medication will fix the problem - but it doesnt. Heart disease is an issue that causes death in 1 of 4 men and women in the United States. The good news is that heart disease is preventable through healthy diet choices and making healthy lifestyle choices (like exercising).Often even if youve had years of unhealthy eating under your belt, making some lifestyle changes, getting exercise, reducing stress and fatigue, drinking tons of water and making healthy eating choices make the biggest difference. The best part? These are all things you can do yourself, no prescription required! Making Lifestyle ChangesSometimes, making lifestyle changes can be tough because some habits have been built up for long periods of time. Some lifestyle changes that can have an immediate effect on your heart health include:-Stop smoking now stops the growth of plaque buildup and hardening arteries-Cut back on drinking alcoholic beverages-Maintain a healthy weight by eating right and exercising-Exercise or doing a hobby outdoors instead of watching TV (research from Harvard School of Public Health suggests that watching more than two hours of TV per day causes an increased risk of heart disease) Getting ExerciseGetting moving is the trademark of a healthy lifestyle! It doesnt have to be super strenuous - like running a mile; just get some exercise! Some good exercises for seniors include:-A brisk walk through the park-Gardening-Walking the dog or taking the dog to the park-Balance exercises for seniors like walking heel to toe or marching in place-Wall push-ups and other strength exercises for seniors Reducing Stress and FatigueHave you ever gotten worked up and then had a fast pulse or felt on edge? Thats because stress directly raises your risk for heart disease. An AHA (American Heart Association) study found that doing a few meditation activities can actually reduce your risk of heart attacks significantly (compared to people that dont meditate to moderate stress). Heres an example of meditation exercises that you can do in 5 minutes:            -Focus on an interesting painting or nature scene            -Take several deep breaths            -Focus on the moment rather than focusing on negativity            -Distract yourself with a calming task            -Listen to music Drink Tons of WaterDid you know that your body is 60% water? Its constantly depleting this amount too - so doctors suggest drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day. Thats because it has a ton of positive benefits. Water:-Improves heart and brain function, while improving memory-Prevents issues like constipation, kidney stones, and headaches; reducing stress            -Makes it easier to lose weight and improves metabolism-Reduces the risk of heart attack and improves sleep quality if you drink a glass of water before bed (but dont drink too much!) Making Healthy Eating Choices - the TRUE Heart Healthy DietYouve probably heard that you are what you eat, and in a lot of ways its very true. If you eat unhealthily, you often feel lethargic, tired, and slow (think about how you feel after a big meal). Thats because the body is struggling to digest and break down unhealthy foods. And when we crave unhealthy foods, its often best to find other, healthier alternatives. Thats why at Legend Senior Living we always stress:            -Low sugar diets over low calorie diets-Managing your sugar or eliminating your sugar intake entirely-Cutting down on carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, and starchy foods to lower blood sugar levels-Eating one fruit product a day to beat sugar craving causes naturally-Eating plenty of proteins, cheeses and milk-Getting dietary fiber through leafy greens and other healthy vegetables (sweet potatoes, asparagus and other low GI (glycemic index) foods like peppers and green veggies. You can always reference glycemic reference food charts to better follow low glycemic index diets as well Everyone Needs Some Help Sometimes - Plus its Heart Health Month! Legend Senior Living focuses on heart health this time of year; especially after holidays full of junk food and sugar. We help teach our clients how to better prepare lunches and breakfasts. We schedule professional dietitians and cardiologists to better explain how exercise, dieting, and reducing stress improve your heart health. Learn more about preventing heart disease for your loved ones today - give us a call to schedule a visit!