Owners' Blog

High Blood Pressure and Your Aging Parent

By Hilary and Greg Eldridge

High blood pressure is extremely common in the United States. One in three adults over the age of 20 are believed to have high blood pressure with nearly 20 percent of those unaware that they have it. High blood pressure is, in large part, due to lifestyle choices and is a contributing factor in heart attacks, stroke, dementia, and kidney and eye diseases. The good news is that it can often be controlled by changing the lifestyle that created it.

Symptoms

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it rarely alerts you to its presence with any type of symptoms. The best way to keep an eye on it is through regular blood pressure checks. Many pharmacies, drug stores and grocery stores now offer stations where you can check your own blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the force of the blood pushing through the blood vessels. It is measured by the systolic pressure—the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats—over the diastolic pressure—the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest. Pre-hypertension is anything over 120/80 and hypertension is anything over 140/90. The target blood pressure for seniors is not clear with some research suggesting a higher range for their norm. It is best to check with their primary health care provider should their pressure rise above 120/80.

Treatment

High blood pressure can be controlled with lifestyle changes. Medications may be recommended in some circumstances. Even with medication, you will want to help your loved one incorporate these changes:

  • Stop smoking. Smokefree 60+ is a government sponsored website that offers tips, suggestions and online support to help seniors break this difficult habit.
  • Maintain an ideal body weight. If your parent needs to lose weight, consider helping them make small changes that ultimately lead to big results. This may mean switching white flour products for whole grains one week and removing any packaged or prepared foods another. An easy to follow format is the plate plan. This healthy plan for eating well involves serving vegetables on half of a plate, whole grains on a quarter of the plate and high-quality, low-fat protein on the other quarter. In addition, a few servings of fruits and low-fat dairy products are allowed every day.
  • Exercise needs to be an integral part of their life, consisting of at least 30 minutes a day for five days a week. Make sure it is an activity they enjoy in order to ensure regular compliance. Check with their primary health care providers before they begin an exercise program if they have been sedentary.

Senior Care Provider

A senior care provider can assist your loved one with the everyday activities of living. They can provide healthy meals and accompany your parent on daily walks as well as provide transportation to appointments and the local senior community center that often offers a wealth of exercise classes designed for seniors. Their companionship and care can provide needed motivation to help your loved one succeed in creating a healthy lifestyle.

Resources
http://www.healthinaging.org/aging-and-health-a-to-z/topic:high-blood-pressure/info:unique-to-older-adults/
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HighBloodPressure/GettheFactsAboutHighBloodPressure/The-Facts-About-High-Blood-Pressure_UCM_002050_Article.jsp#.WQs_vlXytph

If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring senior care in Duluth, GA, please contact the caring staff at Home Helpers, call (678) 430-8511.