One of the largest changes to the health industry revolves around how ‘trendy’ it has become to take care of our mental and physical health. Millennial’s, in particular, have adopted healthier lifestyles, ranging from taking care of their physical health through exercise, diet and mental health through mindfulness and meditation. This is one of the largest reasons why apps such as Calm and Headspace, among other health-related apps have flourished in the past few years. Being conscious of a healthy lifestyle is not only limited to millennials themselves, but also extends to them wanting a better, and healthier lifestyle for their parents and other family members as well. Due to this shift of becoming health conscious, industries have opted to make health more ‘trendy’ by offering healthier food options, better information and have increased the popularity of exercise, making health more social than ever before.
When it comes to the leading cause of death for men and women, heart attack and stroke, reducing the risk and prevention is the best strategy. Here are nine ways millennials and generation X are influencing their parent’s to live a healthier lifestyle.
Encourage Active Life
Doing something that involves moving most of the body parts can regulate blood pressure and further lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Inspire your parents to take up an activity or follow a routine that makes them active. Ask them to start with 20-30 minutes of brisk walking or jogging. They can even go for a swim or hit the treadmill. Encourage them to do yoga and also exercises that can help them maintain their lean muscle mass. The goal is to encourage them to take up something that motivates them to move their bodies. Encourage exercising, walking, jogging, running, dancing or swimming regimes to help improve their cardiovascular health.
Lose Excess Weight
Extra pounds can put your parent’s heart at risk. Also, unnecessary weight can prevent them from doing their daily chores comfortably. Hence, encourage them to lose excess weight and lead a healthy lifestyle. Losing weight is possible when they eat right and exercise well. We have already talked about the kind of exercises they could do. When it comes to foods, they should follow the new Canadian Food guide and consume more plant based proteins, fewer carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
Watch Their Diet
The kind of food your parent eats makes a lot of difference to their heart health. Some foods may worsen their health while others may not only keep their heart healthy but also reverse any heart-related issue. First things first, ask them to cut down on salt, saturated fats, sweets, and red meats. Avoid trans fats and food with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated ingredients. Opt for good fats such as extra virgin olive oil, avocados, fatty fish like salmon and trout, coconut oil plus nuts and seeds such as walnuts and sunflower seeds. It is important to encourage them to eat more fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and omega-3 rich fishes. Ask them to have complete meals in order to get a variety of nutrients with every meal. You can read more about senior diet advice here.
Ban Smoking and Alcohol Intake
One of the best senior care techniques is to prevent them from smoking and drinking too much alcohol. Older adults who smoke even 1-2 cigarettes daily are at higher risk of heart attack and stroke than non-smokers. Likewise, alcohol consumers are more susceptible to heart issues compared to those who don’t drink.
If they never started smoking or drinking, that’s perfect! If they’ve already quit, excellent!
Free Them from Stress
Stress is the biggest enemy of a healthy heart. Stressful emotions such as anger, tension, and hostility may also lead to heart attack risk. Prevent your parent from overthinking and stressing themselves. Yoga and meditation are the best relaxation methods to de-stress. Enrol your loved one in a local art class or tai-chi session, or even introduce them to a laughter yoga club. All these activities are great stress-busters. Lastly, avoid sharing any shocking or saddening news with them as such news can only excite and overwhelm them.
Check On Their Blood Pressure
Keep a tab on your parent’s blood pressure. Check it every 3-4 days. The numbers should be below 130 (systolic) and 85 (diastolic) to be considered as normal. Anything more than these can elevate the risk of heart issues. Poor eating habits, smoking, stress, etc. can all increase their blood pressure. Hence the reason to encourage your parent to follow many of the above-mentioned items in this article to live a healthy life. If blood pressure is high, you may want to ask their doctor to suggest ways to lower it, or prescribe medications to help regulate blood pressure.
Reduce Sugar Intake
Too much sugar is bad for everyone, even your parent. Excess sugar in the blood will damage their arteries, cause diabetes, slow down wound healing, and increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. It is best that you get your parent’s blood sugar tested every month or two. Keep a check on their sugar intake as well. Natural sugars like fructose are safe. But avoid refined and processed sugars in any form. Ask them to cut down on processed foods too as they contain salts and sugars in high volumes.
Be There for Them
Senior care is best done when you are physically available to your parents. Everything mentioned above is necessary, but your presence, support, and love are critical for them. If you live with your parents, make sure you spend quality time with them daily. But if you don’t stay with them, visit them often and if you cannot physically visit them, phone them often even just to say hello. Don’t wait for weekends, meet them during the week as well. Have dinners together. Get them gifts once in a while. Take them out for picnics and other recreational options. These little things will help lower their stress and risk of heart issues.
Encourage your parent to be social and stay in touch with their friends. Ask them to go out and get some fresh air every day or once in 2-3 days. Doing so will keep them refreshed and energized. If they don’t have many friends, call for a senior care companion for them to keep them happy, engaged in life and physically active, all of which can have the largest positive impact on their mental and physical well being, and your mental and physical well being as their primary caregiver.