How to Help Your Heart Thrive

Do you know the heart undergoes changes as age? It’s true, physical changes like increased stiffness of the arteries combine with chronic issues like plaque build-up to spell trouble for older adults. According to the CDC, 21.7% of adults aged 65 years and older report being diagnosed with coronary heart disease (CHD). 

Age, along with environmental factors like poor diets, lack of exercise and stress all lead to big concerns for our body’s most valuable muscle. Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., but you can take active steps to ensure your heart continues thriving for years to come. 

Thriving is a key aspect of life Immanuel. It’s also a key aspect to a heart-healthy lifestyle. At Immanuel, we believe seniors can thrive in whole person wellness (mind, body and spirit). We believe that your heart can thrive in the same exact way. 

Find Your Passion
Help your heart “sing” by finding what lights you up. We can’t think of a better way to take care of your heart than by embracing lifelong learning, picking up beloved hobbies you may have forgotten, or trying something new. 

Cameo Rogers, Immanuel’s life enrichment manager, is an expert at helping retirees find their passions and it’s a topic she recently explored on our free video series, Thriving at Home for Seniors

For Cameo, finding enrichment begins with a little self-discovery. 

“Take a look at the things you’re drawn to,” she said, which can include things like art, music, literature, research, social activities, giving and wellness. Even abstract traits like being excited by challenges or driven by competition can be clues to activities that bring joy. 

If you’re unsure of what you’re drawn to, Cameo’s Mason Jar Challenge can be a good exercise to figure that out. Simply write things that interest you down on a slip of paper and place in a mason jar, basket or box. Every day, schedule leisure time to choose one activity out of the jar. Reflect on how you feel about the activity. Did it bring you joy? If yes, keep going. If not, simply try again. 

Take Care of Your Health
Whole person wellness benefits your heart in every way. From the foods you eat to exercise, stress, even the amount of sleep you get each night - it all affects your heart. The first step is to reach out to your doctor to receive a baseline of your current heart health and advice where you can make the most significant changes. 

Maybe you’re already walking every day but could use some tweaks to your diet. Maybe your diet’s on-track, but you’re having difficulties managing stress. Start small. One change can make a big difference. Here are some ideas for starting out: 

  • Find Gratitude - Nurture your heart and reduce stress at the same time by starting a gratitude journal. Write down three things each morning that bring you joy - from the sun shining through the window to gratitude for a beloved friend, there’s a lot to be thankful for. 
  • Adopt a Heart Healthy Diet - Make the switch from butter to olive oil or white bread to whole wheat. Swap your normal afternoon snack for a handful of almonds. Choose one thing each day that your heart will thank you for. 
  • Take a Walk - Walking is fantastic exercise for seniors. It’s low-impact, heart healthy approved and good for overall mood and wellness. 

Reach Out
Two hearts are always better than one. Helping your heart thrive means reducing stress and there’s no better way than through friendship. Reach out to old friends or make new ones by joining clubs, groups or volunteering. If going out is difficult, make phone connections a priority. A weekly standing phone call with a friend or even the grandkids is a great way to continue connecting. Your heart will thank you! 

At Immanuel, we’re committed to helping seniors thrive. If you need help finding your passion, taking care of your health or connecting with others, we’re here. We’ve been here for seniors for more than 132 years and we’re here, strong, for many more to come. At each one of our communities, you’ll find unforgettable experiences, intuitive designs and an array of services and amenities to help you live your best retirement, maintenance- and worry-free. Learn more about thriving at Immanuel