Cholesterol is an essential fat, and the body needs it in certain amounts to function properly.
However, high levels of cholesterol over many years can lead to heart disease. Elderly adults have the highest risk of developing heart disease and may be living with high cholesterol levels and not even know it. September is Cholesterol Education Month, where family caregivers can focus on their aging relative and doing something about high cholesterol.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced in the liver and goes through the body in the bloodstream. People also get cholesterol from some of the foods they eat. When the body has too much cholesterol, it can build up along the walls of the arteries, which results in slower blood flow. In extreme cases, the buildup of cholesterol is so severe that it can block blood flow and cause stress on the heart, leading to heart disease.
How Do Seniors Know if Their Cholesterol is High?
People with high cholesterol won’t be able to recognize any physical symptoms, so family caregivers need to ask a doctor specifically to test their aging relative’s cholesterol. Family caregivers and senior care providers should always ensure the elderly adult has regular medical visits once they’ve been diagnosed with high cholesterol, so the doctor can monitor the levels and adjust the treatment as necessary. Most doctors already know that high cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease in elderly adults and it is the leading cause of death in the United States.
What Are the Risk Factors for High Cholesterol?
Seniors have many risk factors for high cholesterol, mostly because it builds up over time, especially after a lifetime of certain lifestyles that are not very healthy. Some of the most common contributors to high cholesterol include age, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, poor diet, obesity, and genetics. Cholesterol levels can be controlled by modifying an elderly person’s lifestyle and being treated by a doctor.
How Can Family Caregivers Help Seniors with High Cholesterol?
Family caregivers can do a lot to help their dependent elderly relative make changes to their lifestyle and habits so that their cholesterol levels can go down. The first step is getting a support team together that is focused on doing what’s best for the senior—including doctors, family members, senior care providers, friends and more.
The best thing that family caregivers and senior care providers can do for elderly adults is to encourage exercise and physical activity, eating nutritious meals, maintaining an appropriate weight, ceasing smoking and taking prescribed cholesterol medication as given by a doctor. Not only do these lifestyle changes help with controlling cholesterol levels, but they will help the elderly adult with other health issues like diabetes, blood pressure, and digestive issues.
There’s no better time for family caregivers and senior care providers to focus on an elderly adult’s cholesterol and minimize the risk of developing heart disease than during Cholesterol Education Month.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering Home Health Care in Irvine, CA, please contact the caring staff at Canaan Home Care today!