What is Cholesterol Education Month?
September is Cholesterol Education Month, where health groups and medical experts try to spread the word to adults of all ages about properly managing their cholesterol levels. Too much cholesterol can block blood flow in the arteries, leading to numerous medical problems. Family caregivers with aging relatives should take the time to learn what they can to do help control their cholesterol and keep them healthier.
Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is found in many foods and is also produced by the body. While a certain amount of cholesterol is healthy, too much can cause buildup in the arteries. These deposits restrict blood flow and can eventually increase the risk of a stroke and heart disease. Seniors are especially at risk for developing high cholesterol levels but unless they are checked out by a doctor, they may not even know they are at risk.
High cholesterol levels don’t produce any symptoms, so many elderly adults don’t usually go to their doctors about it. However, a doctor can test a person’s cholesterol levels using a blood test. Cholesterol Education Week experts recommend that seniors ask their doctor about testing their cholesterol levels and following any treatment recommendations if it is found to be high.
Treatment for high cholesterol ranges from taking medication to making lifestyle changes.
The medications for high cholesterol, known as statins, are widely available and are generally safe for seniors to take. While there are few side effects from statins, it’s important that seniors take the medicine as instructed by the doctor. Elderly adults that depend on family caregivers and senior care providers for daily care will need help in implementing the new treatment options into their lives.
One of the biggest lifestyle changes is modifying the diet by eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. They should avoid high fat and low fiber foods. Green, leafy vegetables are particularly important when it comes to boosting nutrients and fiber in an elderly person’s diet. Those that ingest too many calories from fatty foods are more likely to have high cholesterol levels. Obesity is often linked to high cholesterol levels, so diet and exercise are extremely important, no matter what their age or ability.
Senior care providers also need to encourage the elderly adult with high cholesterol to engage in an activity or exercise each week, as much as they are capable of. Obesity and smoking are two other factors that exacerbate high cholesterol, so seniors should try to take care of those as well, with help from a senior care provider.
Cholesterol levels are an important indicator of heart health, so it’s important for family caregivers to take it seriously when their aging relative is diagnosed with high cholesterol. Lowering those cholesterol levels is one of the best things that family caregivers and senior care providers can do to reduce the elderly adult’s risk of heart attacks or strokes. Anything that family caregivers can do to support better cardiovascular health in their aging relative will give them many years of health and wellness.
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