When I was growing up, every Valentine’s Day, my father would buy me a teddy bear. I had quite the collection by the time I was 11 or 12 years old. Each bear had a message such as “I love you” or “daddy’s little girl.” But, my favorite was a pair of bears that were glued together. It was a daddy bear and a little girl bear, with the message, “You are the heart of everything I am.”
Yes, it is true, the heart is everything. Aside from the metaphorical ability to love through it, we know it is an essential organ that must function well for us to live!
Cardiac health is important at all ages; however, it is increasingly important to pay attention to as you age. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 650,000 Americans die from heart disease each year and cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly 1 of every 3 deaths in the United States (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute).
The good news is there are several self-care activities that seniors can do
, to reduce their risk of heart disease. These include:
- Exercise: A daily dose of physical activity is important. Regular exercise helps to control chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, and other conditions that can stress or damage the heart.
- Diet: The DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) has been proven effective in lowering or controlling high blood pressure. The diet plan focuses on food that is low in sodium and fuller in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium which help lower blood pressure.
- Sleep: Adequate sleep has been shown to improve heart health. There are several risk factors for sleep impairments or conditions that may impact a person’s quality of sleep. These include incontinence and pain, general lack of activity, as well as neurological disease such as Alzheimer’s.
- Stress management: Managing stress is an essential part of heart health. Finding enjoyable activities, hobbies, and self-care routines is key to maintaining lower levels of stress in the body.
At Legacy, our clinical and wellness programs focus on each of the above areas, to help our residents manage their risks of cardiovascular disease and work through challenges that may be hindering them from developing or maintaining healthy habits. We help them take care of their heart, since they, themselves, are the heart of Legacy.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Know the difference fact sheet. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/all-publications-and-resources/know-differences-cardiovascular-disease-heart-disease-coronary-heart-disease
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