September is Cholesterol Education Month, where health and wellness experts try to educate people about the importance of getting their cholesterol levels checked out by a doctor. Elderly adults have an increased risk of having high cholesterol levels, which can be detrimental to their health. During Cholesterol Education Month, family caregivers can help their aging loved ones focus on getting tested and taking action if their cholesterol levels are too high.
Here are some frequently asked questions about cholesterol in seniors:
Q: What is cholesterol?
A: The body produces cholesterol naturally in the liver. This waxy, fatty substance is also ingested with certain foods. It helps with cell membranes and aids in digesting food, making certain hormones and creating vitamin D. A small amount of cholesterol is good, as the body uses it for various things. However, too much cholesterol leads to health issues.
Q: Why is high cholesterol dangerous to a senior’s health?
A: With too much cholesterol, the body cannot break it down and it lines the walls of the arteries, building up over time. This restricts blood flow and sometimes even blocks it. High cholesterol is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Q: What are the symptoms of high cholesterol in elderly adults?
A: There are no detectable symptoms of high cholesterol that seniors, family caregivers or elder care providers can see. The only way to discover high cholesterol is to have a blood test done by a doctor. There are some cholesterol home test kits that require seniors to prick their finger and place a drop of blood on the test strip. The strip then reveals cholesterol levels. Men are generally at a higher risk for dangerous cholesterol levels, but women catch up after menopause.
Q: How is high cholesterol treated in seniors?
A: A doctor will prescribe medicine to help keep high levels of cholesterol under control. Cholesterol medications will help decrease the bad cholesterol and increase the good cholesterol in the body. There are few side effects with cholesterol medication, but a doctor should closely monitor the elderly adult as they take it. Elderly adults who depend on care from a family caregiver or elder care provider may need to be reminded daily of when to take their cholesterol medicine.
Q: What can family caregivers and elder care providers do to help seniors with high cholesterol?
A: There are many lifestyle changes that dependent seniors could adopt with the help of family caregivers and elder care providers. They could eat a healthy diet of more fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains. They can also participate in regular activity and exercise as much as they are able. Maintaining a healthy weight and giving up smoking are other ways to keep cholesterol in check.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Oakland, CA, contact the caring staff at Provident Home Care. Call today (877) 572-3411.
Robin Conley RN., Owner and CEO of Provident Care Home Care Providing HOME CARE- ASSISTED LIVING PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE
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