February is National Heart Month so now is a great time to celebrate our amazing cardiovascular systems and learn a little bit more about how to keep our hearts healthy. Even if you have heart disease or have suffered a heart attack or stroke, there is a lot you can do to keep your system as healthy as possible. Aging Wisely’s patient advocates are here to help with information, resources and health management services.
HEART facts…did you know?
- Every day, your heart beats about 100,000 times, sending 2,000 gallons of blood surging through your body (a kitchen faucet would need to be turned on all the way for 45 years to equal the amount of blood pumped by the heart in an average lifetime).
- Laughter really may be great medicine: a good belly laugh can send 20% more blood flowing through your body.
- Don’t ever claim men don’t have big hearts! An adult woman’s heart weighs about 8 ounces, an adult male heart about 10 ounces.
Prevention, health management and safety are all part of a smart heart plan. Here’s a holistic plan for keeping heart healthy and some ways we can help in each area:
- Eat a healthy diet. A well-balanced diet keeps your body strong and your cardiovascular system healthy. This shouldn’t feel overwhelming…even small changes can make a big difference and a healthy diet can be a tasty one. The American Heart Association recommends: eating an appropriate number of calories for your activity level, eating a variety of foods from all the food groups (emphasizing whole grain foods/fiber, fruits and vegetables and getting at least a couple servings of fish/week), and eating less nutrient-poor foods. These tips are especially important as we age because our calorie and nutrition needs change. Nine out of ten Americans consume too much sodium, which increases risk for high blood pressure–check out this infographic about sodium consumption and ways to reduce intake. Aging Wisely’s patient advocates can refer you to professionals who can create a nutrition plan for you, can set up meal delivery or home caregiver services to ensure you have easy access to healthy meals that you enjoy and can help you monitor your nutrition intake and make changes.
- Get sufficient physical activity. We work closely with In-Home Fitness, a great group of personal trainers who specialize in older clients and helping individuals rehabilitate. We’d love to set up a consultation with them for you. We can also help with all kinds of resources for staying fit and set up caregiver visits to help keep you on track with regular activities. Some of our EasyLiving home care clients go out dancing each week or get a ride to their local fitness center or swimming pool. We want to keep you doing what you love (and staying physically and mentally healthy at the same time)!
- Manage stress and lifestyle factors. Quitting smoking is an important component of better health. If you need help with smoking cessation programs and support, we can offer advice and resources. As holistic care managers, we emphasize quality of life and overall well-being. Small changes in your lifestyle and connecting to healthy activities can be a vital part of a healthy, happy life. Physical activity and creative outlets can protect against stress.
- Be knowledgeable and know where to go for help. Check out the information from the American Heart Association: know the signs of a heart attack and stroke, prevention guidelines and understand your conditions (we’ll be bringing you the key information throughout the next month in our blogs and newsletter). We help filter through the information available to bring you reputable sources, expert referrals and the latest health news.
- Get good heart and medical care. Practice preventative medicine (did you know Medicare now covers most preventative care and screenings with no copay?) and talk to your providers about your risk factors. We can refer you to specialists and help you prepare for doctor’s appointments. Coordinated care produces better outcomes…that’s what we’re here for!
- Get help when you need it. Every individual should have a Vial/File of Life prepared so that emergency medical providers can access the information they need to help you. You might also want to consider a personal emergency response system for your home. If you live in an assisted care facility, your care manager can help ensure your chart is updated and key contacts are listed so your family and providers are notified if there is a problem or changes. We can help you when there is an emergency, with on-call services for Aging Wisely clients. There is nothing worse than trying to navigate a medical emergency without help and support. We can be there throughout the emergency, hospitalization (and discharge planning) and rehabilitation to help guide the way and ensure you understand what is happening and your options.
Give us a call at 727-447-5845 for help in any of these areas! We welcome your comments about what information you would like to see about heart health (and if you have not already signed up for our monthly Wise Words newsletter, you can sign up right on our home page or contact us with a request or comment).