May brings us National High Blood Pressure Education Month. This national campaign to bring awareness about the effects of high blood pressure was initially launched in 1974. Some amazing facts to consider: High blood pressure affects one in three Americans. Approximately 11 million of these individuals do not even know that they have it. High blood pressure can cause thickening and hardening of the arteries, called atherosclerosis, which can eventually lead to heart disease, diabetes, dementia and strokes.
High blood pressure is also called the “silent killer.” This is due to the fact that many people do not show any signs that this disease is present. Symptoms that may arise such as headaches, sweating, shortness of breath and nosebleeds usually do not occur until blood pressure has become severe.
Changes in lifestyle can often get blood pressure under control. The most important considerations are obtaining the ideal body weight, incorporating a healthy eating plan, schedule exercise into daily activities, stop smoking and reduce stress.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is an easy-to-follow approach to getting high blood pressure under control and consists of the following:
- Eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables.
- Switch from white flour and processed foods to whole grains.
- Include low-fat diary and protein sources such as fish, poultry beans and nuts.
- Exclude saturated fats such as those found in fatty meats and other high-fat foods.
- Substitute olive oil for other fats such as butter.
- Limit sugar-sweetened drinks and food.
Scheduling aerobic exercise into your parent’s daily activities can dramatically reduce blood pressure. While at least 30 minutes of activity is recommended for 5 days a week, even incremental changes in activity can have a positive impact. A study was conducted at Pennington Biomedical Research Center on 400 women between the ages of 45 and 75 who were overweight, sedentary and had high blood pressure. They were separated into four groups—three that exercised at varying levels of intensity and one that remained sedentary. All experienced a reduction in blood pressure except for the sedentary group. Be sure to check with your loved one’s primary health care provider before helping them begin an exercise program.
Exercise has a dual purpose in that it has also been shown to reduce stress. Other stress reduction techniques include tai chi, a Chinese form of movement that has grown in popularity and is often offered at the local senior community center. Listening to relaxation recordings such as those found on YouTube or recordings of nature sounds has also been shown to elicit relaxation and reduce stress.
Elder Care Provider
If your loved one requires assistance with the daily activities of living, consider acquiring the services of an elder care provider. These professionals can prepare healthy meals, accompany your parent on daily walks, and provide companionship and care in the everyday tasks of living. As a family caregiver, it’s important to remember to care for yourself as well. Monitor your blood pressure and incorporate the various lifestyle changes to bring health and balance into your own life.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring elder care in Gibsonia, PA, please call the caring staff at Home Helpers. Call today (412) 201-0712.