Each February, individuals and organizations across the country observe American Heart Month and continue to find ways to promote heart-healthy living. Preventative measures for maintaining a heart-healthy lifestyle include regular exercise, proper nutrition, regular check-ups and tracking blood pressure, adequate sleep, and more. This may sound easy enough, but many adults have trouble applying these habits in their own lives. Helping an aging parent or loved one maintain a healthy lifestyle may prove to be even be more difficult. Fortunately, many assisted living facilities help seniors stick to heart-healthy guidelines in ways that they may not be able to on their own. Here are four ways that senior living promotes a heart-healthy lifestyle:
Let’s start with what is arguably the most important factor first. Moving around for at least 30 minutes a day can dramatically decrease risk for heart disease. Most senior living facilities provide some type of exercise program for their residents on a weekly or even daily basis. The more often, the better. Additionally, programs can be tailored to an individual’s physical abilities. Whether it be chair yoga, Zumba, Tai Chi or musical entertainment that gets a person moving, any type of regular physical activity is going to be beneficial.
“On average, Americans visit the doctor four times a year, substantially less than in other countries,” according to a Commonwealth Fund study. While this may suffice for a healthy adult, it is important that seniors and at-risk populations regularly check their blood pressure outside of these visits. Seniors in assisted living and similar residences often have access to daily testing of vital signs, meaning that concerning changes are often identified early enough to turn things around and require less invasive treatment. Having nursing staff readily available is a significant benefit of assisted living that promotes better heart health.
Consistent sleep schedules:
Lack of proper sleep has been shown to have a negative impact on heart health. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased blood pressure, due to added stress on the heart. Even too much sleep has been shown to cause health issues such as increased instances of obesity – which is a risk factor for heart disease.
Residents of assisted living communities have their daily activities scheduled in ways that promote a healthy sleep cycle; exercise programs are usually earlier in the day, meals do not occur too late in the evening, etc. Most importantly, there are staff and healthcare providers available who can help individualize daily schedules to the specific needs of each resident.
Healthy dining offerings:
Assisted living communities strive to give residents independence and choice in their dietary selections. It is important that residents and family members advocate to dining staff their desire to maintain a heart healthy diet. Most states require that dining departments in these communities accommodate residents individual dietary needs. However, even for those who don’t require a strict diet plan, it is a good idea to use the freedom of selection offered at assisted living communities to choose a balanced meal.
While these benefits are great to have, it is important to learn the risk factors of heart disease and make a personal effort to fight against those that you can control!
Stein Assisted Living is committed to providing personalized assisted living support in a pleasant, homelike environment to seniors in central New Jersey. We take pride in recognizing and meeting the personal, medical and spiritual needs of our senior residents… and celebrating the traditional Jewish values that are central to our mission of caring for the elderly.