When you think about dementia, you may not associate it with high blood pressure. However, researchers have known for years that there is, in fact, a link. Recently, though, researchers have discovered that women who develop high blood pressure in their 40s are at an even higher risk. Yet, the same does not seem to hold true for men. Understanding the link between the two conditions could help seniors to protect their brain health.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure is also called hypertension. High blood pressure happens when a person’s blood places too much pressure against the walls of the arteries. When the condition is untreated, it can lead to heart disease, stroke, or kidney damage. And, as research shows, it may also lead to dementia.
How Does It Affect the Brain?
The brain is a complex organ and requires a good supply of blood to function properly. High blood pressure damages blood vessels in the brain, thus harming areas of the brain that control memory and thought. Research indicates that people with high blood pressure show evidence of Alzheimer’s disease in their spinal fluid. One study showed that people whose blood pressure varied greatly over a period of time had an even greater chance of developing dementia. Johns Hopkins recently conducted research that showed people who took medication for blood pressure lowered their risk for hypertension by up to 33 percent.
How Can Older Adults Lower Blood Pressure?
There are, of course, medications that can help to control blood pressure. Older adults should certainly have their blood pressure checked by a doctor, and find out how medications can help. In addition, there are several lifestyle changes that can help to lower blood pressure, such as:
- Reduce Sodium Intake: Watching the amount of sodium in a senior’s diet can reduce blood pressure levels. According to the Mayo Clinic, reducing sodium even a little bit can lower blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. Sodium intake should be no more than 2,300 mg or less. In fact, a sodium intake of no more than 1,500 mg is even better.
- Lose Extra Weight: As weight goes up, so does blood pressure. Experts say that losing just 10 pounds can lower blood pressure, and weight control is the best way to control blood pressure.
- Exercise Regularly: Getting in 30 minutes of exercise most days can reduce blood pressure by 4 to 9 mm Hg. However, when people stop exercising, their blood pressure can go up again.
- Eat Well: A balanced diet that includes lots of vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy, and whole grains can make a difference. In fact, it can lower blood pressure by 14 mm Hg. Eating healthy also means limiting the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat.
An elderly care provider can help seniors to reduce their blood pressure. Because seniors who live alone often spend little time thinking about what they eat and may grab whatever is easiest, they may not eat well. An elderly care provider can prepare healthy meals that limit sodium intake. They can also encourage older adults to exercise, or drive them to exercise classes. An elderly care provider can also be a great support for someone who is trying to lose weight. They can be a cheerleader and someone to celebrate successes with.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Bellaire, TX, contact the caring staff at Personal Caregiving Services at 832-564-0338. Providing Care in Houston, Bellaire, West University Place, Katy, and Sugar Land and the surrounding areas.
In 1989 after selling his family owned food service business, Mr. Gerber pursued his compassion for the elderly by completing his geriatric education and training requirements to be a licensed nursing home administrator (LNFA) from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.Previously he received his undergraduate business degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Masters in business administration (MBA) from the University of Houston.In 2003, Mr. Gerber earned his Certification to be a Senior Advisor (CSA).
Sid Gerber is a Google Verified Author