Seniors who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure may be tempted to think that all they can do is take medication and hope for the best. Yet, there are many options for senior care at home that can help control blood pressure and, if medication is necessary, even enhance the effect of the medications.
Eat a heart healthy diet
A good place to begin a heart healthy eating plan is by reducing the amount of salt, red meat, sweets and foods and beverages that contain added sugars in one’s diet. Limiting saturated and trans fats is also important. Aim to eat a diet that’s rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and fish containing omega 3 fatty acids (trout, salmon, herring etc). Lean meats, skinless poultry and fat-free or low-fat (1%) dairy products can also be incorporated.
Participate in regular exercise or physical activity
Participating in at least 30 minutes of exercise at least 5 days per week is optimal. Seniors should check with their doctor about finding the program that is right for them, and is safe to do if their blood pressure is not currently under control.
Maintain a healthy weight
A good diet and regular physical activity can help seniors maintain a healthy weight, which is important to controlling blood pressure.
Find ways to manage stress
Another benefit of exercise is that it can help reduce stress. Yoga, meditation and even socializing with friends can help keep stress in check. If the amount of stress is extreme or the senior seems to be having trouble coping, talking to a licensed therapist or counselor can help the senior deal with the stress.
Stop smoking and avoid smoke
Smokers should try to find a way to quit. Non-smokers should try to avoid being exposed to second-hand smoke. Tobacco smoke is bad for blood pressure.
If drinking is already a part of one’s lifestyle, it is best to limit alcoholic beverages to no more than one drink per day for women and two for men. Seniors should check with their health care provider to make sure that this level is suitable for their overall health and will not conflict with any medications.
Practice hot tub safety
Generally, hot tubs are safe for individuals with high blood pressure unless their blood pressure is not under control or is extremely elevated at the time they wish to use it. Senior care specialists recommend consulting with a doctor about acceptable blood pressure levels for seniors who may wish to use a hot tub. People with high blood pressure should also avoid alternating between hot saunas and cold water, and should avoid alcohol while using the hot tub as both practices can cause an increase in blood pressure.
While all of these senior care at home practices can help control blood pressure, and possibly even prevent or delay its onset, if a doctor has indicated that taking medication is necessary, it is extremely important to take it. Failing to keep blood pressure in check can cause stroke, vision loss, kidney damage, erectile dysfunction, memory loss, heart disease, congestive heart failure, heart attack and other significant health issues. Keeping blood pressure under control is an important life-long commitment necessary to maintaining health and quality of life, and seniors who adopt these senior care at home practices are well on their way to better health.