With age, the level of cholesterol, a fat-like substance present in the blood, naturally tends to rise. Because there are substantial risks associated with high cholesterol, seniors must be especially careful to maintain good cholesterol levels. It’s important to understand the dangers of high cholesterol and lifestyle changes that can make a big difference in the lives of seniors.
Understanding Good vs. Bad Cholesterol
Too much bad (LDL) cholesterol can clog the arteries, which leads to a variety of cardiac issues, including stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and heart failure. However, the body also contains “good,” or HDL, cholesterol. High HDL levels can prevent these issues from occurring.
The liver produces around 75 percent of all cholesterol found in the body. The other 25 percent comes from food. After having their cholesterol tested, seniors should be given a number between 190 and 260. Healthy seniors should keep their total cholesterol below 200 and their LDL cholesterol around 100. If your elderly loved one’s LDL cholesterol level is above 160, he or she must start making sweeping lifestyle changes.
Elevated cholesterol levels have been linked to a variety of health conditions, including an increased risk of Alzheimer’s. If your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s and needs help managing daily tasks, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Oakville Home Care Assistance provides reliable caregivers around the clock to help your loved one age in place safely and comfortably while living with Alzheimer’s disease.
Risk Factors for High Cholesterol
While age is one risk factor for high cholesterol, there are other factors that can impact the risk. High cholesterol is more common in those who smoke cigarettes, have high blood pressure, and/or have a family history of heart disease.
High cholesterol is extremely dangerous when left untreated, and it can have a major impact on a senior’s quality of life. In addition to heart attacks and heart disease, high LDL levels can also increase the risk of developing dementia and memory loss. These are just a few of the reasons all seniors should have their cholesterol levels tested at least once or twice a year.
Recommended Lifestyle Changes for Seniors
Those at high risk, including seniors, should implement lifestyle measures to prevent high cholesterol. These include eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, avoiding fatty and fried foods and sweets, exercising for at least 30 minutes most days of the week, and, if necessary, quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol.
Seniors who are overweight and shed some pounds can also lower their cholesterol levels. In fact, some experts say weight loss of 5–10 pounds can make a difference. For seniors who are relatively inactive, walking for short distances at first and then gradually increasing activity over time is a good way to begin a fitness routine.
If your loved one has health conditions or mobility issues that make it challenging to exercise alone, it may be a good idea to have a trained caregiver provide support so your loved one can work out safely. When considering senior home care, families should make sure their senior loved ones have the resources they need to maintain their independence and remain healthy. Trusted in-home care professionals can assist seniors with daily tasks like cooking, bathing, and exercise, and they can also encourage them to focus on healthier lifestyle habits.
How You Can Help Your Loved One
To help your loved one enjoy healthy and happy golden years, make sure he or she gets regular screenings to determine his or her cholesterol levels. Try to accompany your loved one to all medical appointments and see if the doctor can recommend a healthy diet and exercise plan or other treatment options, such as medication, to lower cholesterol. Being there allows you to support your loved one while making sure any recommendations from the doctor are understood and carried out.
If you have a loved one who finds it challenging to maintain healthy cholesterol levels, consider hiring a professional caregiver with training and expertise in the specific nutritional needs of seniors. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of homecare services. Oakville families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (905) 337-1200.