Despite the fact that about one in every six adults, or roughly 17 percent of the U.S. adult population, has high cholesterol, many are not aware of the very real risks of the condition. Anyone can develop high cholesterol at any age, although the risk increases as people get older. High cholesterol is one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease, the number one killer of seniors in the United States. Here’s what older adults and their families need to know about cholesterol.
What Is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is made in the liver, but it’s also found in a variety of foods. LDL is often called “bad cholesterol” because it adheres to the walls of arteries and blood vessels, and it can cause severe damage to the heart and the entire cardiovascular system. HDL is usually referred to as “good cholesterol” because it breaks up pockets of LDL, which are known as plaque.
Is There a Recommended Minimum for Dietary Cholesterol?
The liver produces 100 percent of the cholesterol the human body needs, which means people don’t need any cholesterol from food. The American Heart Association advises getting less than 300 mg of cholesterol per day from dietary sources, and it recommends less than 200 mg per day for those at risk, including seniors and people with high LDL cholesterol or heart disease.
What Are the Risks of High Cholesterol?
If high cholesterol is left untreated, it can be extremely dangerous and have a significant negative impact on an aging adult’s quality of life. Heart disease and heart attacks are among the most common consequences of high levels of LDL, which can also cause an increased risk of memory loss and dementia.
If your loved one develops dementia, whether it’s because of high cholesterol or another age-related condition, compassionate assistance is just a phone call away. Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Richmond families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.
Can High Cholesterol Be Hereditary?
Genetic factors are the most common reason people have high LDL cholesterol. Seniors who have family histories of high cholesterol or heart disease are at greater risk of having elevated levels of LDL cholesterol.
Though heredity and age can cause high cholesterol, lifestyle habits can impact cholesterol levels as well. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional in-home care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Can Losing Weight Reduce Cholesterol?
Seniors who are overweight are encouraged to shed at least 5 to 10 percent of their body weight. Even this modest weight loss can significantly reduce cholesterol levels.
Does Menopause Affect Cholesterol Levels?
Most women have lower cholesterol than men prior to menopause. The hormonal changes that accompany menopause generally cause HDL levels to fall and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels to increase. By the age of 70, more women have high cholesterol than men.
When Should Seniors Have Their Cholesterol Levels Checked?
How often men and women should get cholesterol tests depends on many factors, including age, risk factors, and current cholesterol levels. Seniors may be advised to get their cholesterol levels checked annually or every few years, and identifying problems early can help seniors combat high cholesterol with medications and lifestyle changes that can lower their risk of heart disease.
With the right combination of a nutritious diet and regular exercise, seniors can increase their chances of maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care. Richmond Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Call us today at (804) 207-4746 to discuss how we can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing your loved one is being cared for with professionalism and compassion.