Putting “Heart” Back Into Healthy Living in Your Golden Years

By Clare Wentz

There’s no better time to be health conscious than when you’re a senior. It’s the time in your life when health matters the most and, if you’re retired, when you have more free time to devote to your health. Over the years, you may have let your health become less of a priority as you directed your attention to other obligations, but today is the day to regain control over the state of your physical and mental well-being.

Protect Your Heart

Your heart is the only muscle in your body that’s always working, and it’s arguably the most important part of your body to protect. Regardless of your age, protecting your heart is akin to protecting your life. It’s the reason why your blood pressure and your heart rate are the first things that are checked when you visit the doctor’s office. High blood pressure can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, which can eventually result in a heart attack.

Part of taking care of your heart means eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising several times a week, maintaining a normal blood pressure, and seeing a doctor regularly. A heart-healthy diet consists of nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, poultry, fish, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy, whole grains, and healthy fats.

Elevate Your Healthcare

If you’re at risk for cardiovascular disease, your doctor can refer you to a cardiologist for testing, monitoring, medication, and lifestyle changes. Before you can start this process, however, it’s a good idea to review your health insurance policy. While original Medicare is available to all seniors, you might find better coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan – one that helps you avoid too many out-of-pocket costs. Medicare Advantage plans are available through providers like Aetna, and they offer benefits Medicare doesn’t always cover like dental and vision care as well as expanded prescription coverage.

Reduce Your Stress

Stress can affect your physical and mental health in more ways that you may realize. If you’re encountering other issues that have no explanation or clear source, then stress could be a factor. Stress affects your body, brain, heart, memory, confidence, mood, happiness, and relationships. When left unchecked, it can lead to more serious conditions such as depression and heart disease. Look for the warning signs, and manage your stress as a preventative measure for your overall health. To make stress reduction a priority, identify your triggers and avoid those situations. Practice calming exercises that involve deep breathing, relaxation, and self-care.

Protect Your Brain

You hear a lot about heart health, but brain health is also important for older adults. Some seniors maintain full mental faculties throughout their lives, but others might see deterioration in brain function and memory as they age. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are also real possibilities for some seniors. To protect yourself from cognitive impairment, take care of your brain by stimulating it with mental activities. What you feed your brain impacts your cognition and other health conditions that could lead to dementia and mental decline.

Improve Your Happiness

When the Beatles said, “All you need is love,” they were on to something. At the end of the day, ask yourself what matters most: your accomplishments at work, your investment portfolio, or the people you love? Relationships are the most important thing in life and after decades of looking back, many seniors would agree. Use this time in your life to focus on your happiness by building up strong relationships. Whether it’s with family or friends, having a social life and a loving support system can go a long way for any senior. Love and happiness are prized treasures that human beings simply cannot live without.

It all comes down to heart: the literal beating heart that keeps you alive and the figurative heart that feels and shares love.

Both are a part of your core being. Both are a source of life. When you take care of those things, you can unlock the keys to good health and youthful living.

Claire Wentz is creator of caringfromafar.com and author of the upcoming book, Caring from Afar: A Comprehensive Guide for Long-Distance Senior Caregivers.

If you have questions about your heart health, contact us!

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