Taking care of elderly parents or family members? Help them make healthy changes

Picture of mother and daughter for article about taking care of elderly parents

As we take time this Mother’s Day and Father’s Day to recognize those who take care of us — not just the moms and dads, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends — encourage them to make their health a priority and take important steps to live more active, healthier lives and reduce their risks for some major health issues.

The top health issues among adults in the U.S. are heart disease, stroke, cancer and chronic lower respiratory disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The good news is that a few lifestyle changes can lower the risk of these common conditions.

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking is harmful to almost every part of your body. It increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and many cancers. Quitting is not easy, but many people do it every year. There are several programs to help you quit. You may even find one through your health insurance plan.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Choose vegetables; fruits; whole grains, such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice; high-fiber foods, such as beans and nuts; and lean sources of protein, such as fish. Limit foods high in saturated fat and salt.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. There are many good reasons to stay at a healthy weight. Extra weight puts you at a higher risk for many health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colon and breast cancer. It can also cause joint problems and breathing problems.
  • Get moving. Include physical activity in your daily routine. Exercise can help you control your weight and lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Choose sports or other activities you enjoy, from basketball to dancing to brisk walking. Remember to check with your health care provider before beginning any new fitness program.
  • Limit alcohol. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. That means no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men. The risk of various types of cancer, such as liver cancer, appears to increase with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly. Too much alcohol can also raise your blood pressure.
One drink equals one of the following…
One drink equals one of the following
12 ounces
of beer
One drink equals one of the following
8 ounces
of malt liquor
One drink equals one of the following
5 ounces
of wine
One drink equals one of the following
1.5 ounces
or a "shot" of 80-proof distilled spirits or liquor
  • Manage stress. If you feel constantly on edge, your quality of life may suffer — and so might your immune system. Take steps to reduce stress or learn to deal with stress in healthy ways. Some people deal with stress in unhealthy ways — like smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating too much or too little. Consider activities such as meditation, exercise, or talking with friends and family.
  • Visit your doctor. Your doctor can be your best ally for preventing health problems. Preventive measures can go a long way toward reducing your health risks.
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