The heart is the most important muscle in the body. It ensures the regular circulation of oxygen-filled blood to the rest of our organs and muscles. A prolonged lack of this critical supply could cause severe damage and could even be fatal if not hastily remedied. As such, it’s incredibly important to take good care of the heart.
A key aspect of your profession as a personal support worker is to look after your clients’ health, which includes helping them stay heart healthy. Unfortunately, the older someone gets, the higher their risk for heart disease or of affliction with a disability related to the heart. However, there are things that can be done and activities that can be encouraged to try and maintain good heart health. To find out what they are, keep reading.
Use Your PSW Training to Encourage Feasible Forms of Exercise
As holders of a personal support worker certificate know, exercise is crucial to staying healthy, and this is especially true where the heart is concerned. In fact, The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada says that exercise can reduce the risk of death from heart disease by up to 50 percent.
For seniors, however, exercising might be challenging, especially if they have disabilities which limit their physical movement. The good news is that there are still many types of physical activity that seniors can engage in.
Some light and easy yet beneficial activities you can encourage are walking, aquatic exercises, or chair yoga. When in doubt of what a client is capable of, their personal care plan may list appropriate physical activities which you can draw upon. Even if they only work their heart rate up lightly for small periods every day, it can make a huge difference.
A Healthy Diet Keeps Helps Keep Arteries in Good Shape
Exercise is the top dog when it comes to things to do to stay heart healthy, but its positive effects can be diminished through a poor eating regime. Diet – another major player in overall wellness – is also critical to heart health.
Eating well for the heart means enjoying a variety of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables, eating lean meats and low-fat dairy, and avoiding processed and packaged foods, as well as those that are high in sodium, sugars, and saturated fats. A big aim of a heart healthy diet is to keep cholesterol down, as this nasty substance contributes to the buildup of plaque that can clog arteries and lead to heart disease. Sodium also happens to be one of the bigger foes as it can lead to hypertension.
As people age, a diminishing sense of taste and lower appetite may lead to unhealthy dietary choices such as adding too much salt to a meal or not choosing sufficiently nutrient-rich foods. Therefore, letting your clients know about the possible ill effects of a bad diet and encouraging them to make better choices is a good way to help them keep their hearts healthy.
Stress Reduction is Important for Staying Heart Healthy
Besides diet and exercise, those with PSW training are aware that minimizing stress is also important for health, and heart health is no exception. This is because chronic stress can raise blood pressure or even lead to the formation of blood clots, all harmful to heart health. Moreover, stress can cause a lack of appetite which can hamper healthy eating.
Great ways to keep stress minimized include the aforementioned exercise, calming breathing techniques, hobbies, and social interactions with others. Especially if they are in home care, seniors may be less socially active, so encouraging them to join community activities for the elderly may be a good way to tackle this and also get them engaged in a hobby.
You may even consider recommending gardening to your clients, as it’s a great therapeutic and stress-relieving activity that can also get them moving. Additionally, a personal garden can allow your clients to grow their own healthy produce, therefore assisting them with their heart health on all three fronts.