When we think of February, most of us think of Valentine’s Day. So, hearts are on many of our minds this month. But did you know that February is American Heart Month?
Heart health is important for so many reasons. However, you may not be aware that studies have shown a relationship between heart health and cognitive health. So, among other advantages, a healthy heart can reduce the potential for developing dementia later in life.
And, for those who are living with dementia, improving heart health can help optimize their cognition levels as well. Why is this? According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, there may be a link between the plaques built up in the brain to similar plaques in the heart.
That’s why it’s so important for individuals living with dementias, such as Alzheimer’s disease, to get regular exercise and fresh air to keep their brains oxygenated and working to their best ability.
With that in mind, here are 5 keys to better heart health that all of us should do our best to adhere to:
- Move! Your heart is a muscle. By getting regular exercise, you are improving its strength. Of course it’s important, especially for older individuals to get a physician’s advice as to how much exercise makes sense to fit individual needs and existing health conditions. But even movement as mild as walking around an apartment or bedroom, when done regularly, can help.
- Quit smoking. This known to be a significant cause of heart issues. Fortunately, today there are plenty of resources available to help those who are committed to quitting.
- Eat more heart healthy foods. For example, foods like salmon and avocados are high in Omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation throughout the body. That includes the heart.
- Lose excess weight. For those who are 20 pounds or more overweight, engaging in a safe weight loss program can put less pressure on the heart. Keeping fit is more important than ever for those living with dementia.
- Try to keep stress levels down. Stress increases blood pressure and heart rate. There are some great natural ways to reduce stress, including yoga, meditation and getting a good night’s sleep.
At Anthem Memory Care communities, our mission to protect, engage and love our residents extends throughout their daily lives, including regular exercise, fresh air, brain healthy foods and an environment that encourages connection with the world around them.
If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, be sure to reach out to the many resources that are available to you. We have some excellent resources posted here to help you on your journey to keep your loved one, yourself and your family healthy.
(The top image is of one of the amazing residents of Chisholm Place Memory Care in Wichita, Kansas.)