Did you know that heart disease is currently the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States? A variety of factors including genetics, lifestyle, diet, and stress levels contribute to this, but a surprising trend is happening for senior citizens. The number of seniors dying from heart disease has actually decreased. What are some reasons for this change, and how are seniors defying nationwide trends related to heart disease? Assisted living and long-term care campuses are a large part of this encouraging statistic, with specialized campuses not only improving seniors’ social lives, but their heart health as well.
Heart Disease in the United States
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, heart disease is the #1 cause of mortality for adults in the United States. Approximately 12% of the population is diagnosed with heart disease, which accounts for almost 7% of all doctors office visits, and 6% of all emergency room visits. Along with clogged arteries, heart disease also clogs doctors’ waiting rooms.
Assisted living campuses are becoming more popular with seniors in the United States as older Americans look for support and community-based housing options. There are many reasons why seniors choose an assisted living campus as the next step for their living arrangement. People looking for help taking medications, bathing, and dressing find that an assisted living campus provides the level of care they need. A bonus? There’s a host of other (heart healthy!) benefits that might not be evident at first.
How a Community Contributes to a Heart-Healthy Future
A heart-healthy lifestyle is one of the factors that can lead to a decrease in developing heart disease. Assisted living campuses are structured to provide safe, secure, and communal living, which in turn lends itself to a happy, healthy heart! The following are guidelines used by many assisted living campuses, which are also beneficial heart health tips for all seniors:
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
A regular night’s sleep not only lets your mind rest and re-charge for the following day, it does the same for your heart. Getting good quality sleep lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease, as this is the body’s time to naturally lower heart rate and blood pressure. At assisted living campuses, bedtimes and morning wake-ups are at the same time every day, ensuring a consistent sleep routine. Additionally, the safe campus allows peace of mind at nighttime, knowing that all residents are carefully secured by staff members.
2. Community Fitness is Critical
A body that’s in motion likes to stay in motion! Fitness is important at every age, but especially critical for seniors. Staying active is one of the components of heart health, and at assisted living campuses, fitness is a community affair! Ability-appropriate exercises are completed in group settings that encourage all residents to join the fitness fun. We all know how hard it is to find the motivation to hit the gym alone, but knowing that your peers are doing the same activities is a great incentive to get moving.
3. Social Supports Form Strong Bonds
A recent article from Time Magazine suggests that 1 in 3 seniors identifies as lonely, which affects not only mental health, but also heart health. Depression and loneliness cause increased anxiety, which adds stress on the heart. One of the most critical benefits of assisted living is that it provides a natural community of people who are all at the same stage of their lives, and share many common experiences and interests. With all of the different activities offered, group exercises, and shared dining experiences, seniors have many opportunities to make strong connections with others on a daily basis.
4. Heart-Healthy Dining
If you live on your own, it’s easy to grab a quick, unhealthy snack to stave off hunger pains. At an assisted living campus, every meal is planned around providing well-rounded, heart-healthy meals that are not only delicious, but also highly nutritious.
Holding off heart disease as we age is manageable as long as there are the proper structures in place to boost cardiovascular health. If you’re interested in discussing the various programs and care options provided at assisted living campuses, contact the professionals at Nye Health Services to see how we can keep your heart, and your soul, healthy in your golden years.