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Heart health is integral to quality of life at any age. People of all ages and levels of mobility can take steps toward better heart health. Let’s get started with some basics:

  • Eat a healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy, and healthy oils found in fish and nuts. A good rule of thumb is to buy fresh, whole foods whenever possible. However, frozen foods are an acceptable alternative to fresh produce and a practical choice for seniors who can’t shop frequently. Instead of unhealthy fats, sugars and salt, add flavor with herbs, spices, salt-free blends and lemon juice. For those who find grocery shopping or cooking difficult, there are helpful services like Mom’s Meals, which delivers nutritionally balanced, freshly prepared meals to customers’ homes. Designed to meet the needs of an aging population, each meal contains fresh foods, is microwaveable and will keep in the refrigerator for two weeks.
  • Participate in an exercise program based on your level of mobility. Exercise is one step toward better heart health. With a doctor’s permission, any exercise can be part of a fitness routine including gardening, dancing, walking, and using light hand weights while watching TV. Activities that get your heart and blood circulation moving, make you feel stronger, and keep you flexible can be good choices.
  • Reduce stress and quit unhealthy habits. A doctor may be able to help curb unhealthy habits, for example helping with smoking cessation. Even alcohol use can cause problems when it becomes a substitute for food or prevents nutrient absorption. Those suffering from stress or hypertension may want to ask their doctors about non-drug therapies, such as using a device like RESPeRATE to reduce blood pressure through the use of bio feedback and deep-breathing exercises.
  • Make dental care a priority. Dental problems not only can cause trouble eating, but oral problems also can contribute to heart disease. Every senior should have the tools needed for proper oral and dental care, including brushes, paste, mouthwash, floss, picks and a tongue scraper. Those with oral complications may want to consider disposable, ready-to-use oral swabs.
  • Participate in regular health screenings. These may include, but are not limited to, checking cholesterol levels and other blood work, mammography, screening for colorectal and other types of cancer, diabetes, hearing tests, and vision exams with eyeglass fittings. At regular appointments, be sure to talk to your, or your elderly family member’s, doctor about medications, health problems or weight loss, and nutrition supplementation.

(This article by Dianna Malkowski, Physician Assistant & Registered Dietitian, originally appeared on the CareGiver Partnership blog.)

About R.O.S Therapy Systems: R.O.S. Therapy Systems began as a backyard project in 2010. Scott Silknitter was searching for tools to help his mother care for his father, Roger Owen Silknitter, during a 25-year fight with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. That project became a personal mission to help all family caregivers. From family caregiver training and activity books to mobile apps to activity systems, R.O.S. has grown to become a single-source provider of informational “how to’s” and a growing provider of adaptive tools for the millions of husbands, wives, children, and family members that become caregivers.

Common sense advice and instruction based on proven principles of communication, engagement, and daily living are the heart of everything R.O.S. offers for family caregivers. Improving quality of life for caregivers is our mission, and designing everything for a family caregiver struggling with a loved one is the starting point. Whether it is dementia, diabetes, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke, visual impairment, developmental disabilities, or any other issue that forces someone to care for a loved one, R.O.S. and its Caregiving 101 program are here to help.