Cholesterol levels tend to increase naturally with age. On average, women are more likely to have higher cholesterol levels than men. However, high levels of unhealthy types of cholesterol can be bad for any older adult. This waxy, fat-like substance does serve some beneficial purposes as well, so it’s important for seniors and their caregivers to have a better idea of what kind of cholesterol increases are good and which ones should be cause for concern.
What Does Cholesterol Do?
To know if you need to be worried about increased cholesterol levels in your senior loved one, it helps to know what this substance actually does. Cholesterol plays a role in a variety of processes within the body, including the production of:
• New cells
• A chemical that aids with digestion (bile)
• Hormones related to stress and sex
• Vitamin D, which prevents age-related bone conditions such as osteoporosis
Which Levels Are Bad for Older Adults?
Simply having high total cholesterol numbers isn’t necessarily a reason for seniors to be concerned. It’s the details that matter more, since total cholesterol figures measure two main types of cholesterol plus one additional type of fat.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is the so-called “bad” form of cholesterol. High LDL levels can result in blocked arteries and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is the “good” cholesterol, and it’s perfectly okay for seniors to have higher amounts of this type. HDL actually removes excess LDL from the bloodstream.
Triglycerides are the other type of fat included in total cholesterol levels. These fats are useful because they provide energy between meals. However, these same fats can be harmful in high amounts.
If your loved one needs help managing cholesterol levels, a trained caregiver can be a tremendous asset. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior home care. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
What Causes High Cholesterol Levels in Seniors?
As mentioned above, simply getting older can naturally increase cholesterol levels. But this is only something to worry about if LDL levels are excessively higher than those considered normal. However, your loved one could be more likely to have issues with high LDL levels because of additional factors, such as:
• Having a family history of high LDL cholesterol levels
• Being overweight and leading a generally inactive life
• Eating high amounts of foods containing saturated and trans fats
• Being a regular cigarette smoker
Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Wellesley, MA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.
How Can Seniors Lower Their Cholesterol Levels?
The good news is there are steps you can encourage your loved one to take if he or she has high LDL levels. For instance, if your loved one has been a longtime smoker, encourage him or her to talk to the doctor about a smoking cessation plan. Seniors may also be able to maintain well-balanced cholesterol levels by:
• Losing weight
• Getting regular exercise
• Better managing underlying health issues, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, that can increase unhealthy cholesterol levels
• Eating a balanced diet that includes more veggies, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and lean proteins
In Wellesley, at-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (781) 239-0060 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.