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To get ready for National Cholesterol Education Month in September, we remind seniors and caregivers to prevent heart disease by being aware of their cholesterol numbers and taking steps to lower LDL levels. These Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) from the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) can help.

It’s important for adults of all ages to know their cholesterol levels and take steps to prevent heart disease. We can’t do anything about some factors that affect cholesterol levels, such as heredity and age, but we can make lifestyle changes that can help lower LDL cholesterol. In addition to avoiding cigarette smoking, the National Institutes of Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recommend Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes to help lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol.

  1. The TLC Diet: A diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, the TLC Diet is designed to help reduce blood cholesterol levels to decrease the chance of developing heart disease, future heart attacks and other heart disease complications. The plan calls for less than 7 percent of calories from saturated fat and less than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. Foods low in saturated fat include fat-free dairy products, lean meats, fish, skinless poultry, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables.

If you’re a senior having a hard time shopping for and cooking nutritious meals, or you’re a caregiver concerned about a loved one not getting fresh, healthy meals, consider a meal delivery service like Mom’s Meals. Mom’s Meals delivers freshly prepared meals to their customers’ homes and includes special meal plans that cater to individuals with dietary restrictions.

  1. Weight management: Losing weight can help those who are overweight lower LDL, especially for those with risk factors such as high triglyceride levels, low HDL levels, or being overweight with a large waist measurement.
  2. Physical activity: Regular physical activity consisting of 30 minutes on most days can help raise HDL and lower LDL levels. Because physical activity is recommended for everyone, seniors with decreased mobility can benefit from daily living aids.

The keys to success are starting slowly and doing activities you enjoy. Start with short walks, gradually building up to longer walks and other activities. Those with limited mobility, such as seniors who are wheelchair-bound, can still find ways to move their bodies. Senior centers and other community organizations often offer classes for all ages and levels of mobility.

If you need help making changes to your current eating plan, your doctor may refer you to a registered dietitian, who can help you choose the right foods and monitor your progress,” she adds. “In some cases, your doctor will prescribe medication along with these lifestyle changes to lower LDL.

(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.