If you have heart disease, you probably already know you’re at risk for a heart attack. Especially if you have other heart attack risk factors, such as:

  • Age >65
  • Male gender
  • Family history of heart attack
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Stress

Even if you do have other heart attack risk factors, certain lifestyle changes can greatly reduce your risk for heart attack. Here are some examples:

Eat right. Choose foods that are low in sodium and low in saturated and trans fats. Eat lean meats, low-fat dairy products, lots of fruit and vegetables, and whole grains. Limit portion sizes. Avoid sugary drinks (e.g., soda).

Exercise. Aerobic exercise (e.g., walking, swimming, riding a bicycle) can help you lose weight, reduce blood sugar, improve your cholesterol, and control your blood pressure. All of which can help decrease your risk of heart attack. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days per week.

Stop smoking. Smoking can raise your blood pressure and increase your heart attack risk. If you need help to quit smoking, ask your Kansas City cardiologist or primary care physician.

Control your diabetes. Checking your blood sugar periodically as ordered, taking medications as prescribed, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet can help you keep your diabetes under control. If you’ve just started a diet or exercise program, let your doctor know so he or she can monitor you regularly and adjust your medications, if necessary.

Reduce stress. If you’re under a lot of stress, reducing your stress level can decrease your risk for heart attack. Exercise, meditation, yoga, and deep breathing exercises are all methods of reducing stress.

Limit alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure and your cholesterol. It can also contribute to obesity. Men should have no more than two drinks per day. Women should limit alcohol intake to one drink per day.

Tips for Success in Reducing Your Heart Attack Risk

Here are a few tips to help you be successful in your quest to manage your heart disease and reduce your risk for heart attack:

Make one change at a time. Trying to make all of these lifestyle changes at once can seem rather daunting. So try setting goals or timeframes for tackling each task. It may help to include friends or family members in goal setting. They can help cheer you on, which will improve your likelihood of reaching your goals.

Reward yourself. Once you’ve reached a goal to improve your heart attack risk, allow yourself a reward. If you’re trying to lose weight, it might be best to avoid food items and either buy something nice for yourself or do something fun instead.

Help for Kansas City Area Residents 

If you live in the Kansas City area and need help making lifestyle changes to reduce your heart attack risk, enlist the help of a company that provides Kansas City home health services. A good home care agency can help you with exercise, heart-healthy meal preparation, stress reduction, and diabetes control.

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There are currently 30 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes. And 25% of those people don’t even know they have it. Could you be one of them? If not, is there a chance you’re at risk?

Types of Diabetes and Risk Factors

There are two main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: Thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the cells that produce insulin. Risk factors for Type 1 diabetes may include:

  • Family history of Type 1 diabetes
  • Certain viruses
  • Environmental factors

Type 2 diabetes:  A condition in which your body doesn’t produce insulin or doesn’t use insulin effectively. Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes may include:

  • Obesity
  • Age (>45)
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history of diabetes
  • A history of gestational diabetes
  • Being African American, Native Alaskan, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian, or a Pacific Islander
  • A history of polycystic ovary syndrome.

Reducing Your Diabetes Risk

If you think you may be at risk for diabetes, talk to your Kansas City doctor. He or she may recommend you make some lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Losing weight
  • Exercising regularly (at least 30 minutes a day, five times per week)
  • Eating a healthy diet with lots of fiber and whole grains

Get Help If You Need It

If you’re having a tough time exercising or preparing healthy meals due to other health issues, you may want to get some help from a Kansas City home health agency. Your home health provider can help you with exercise and meal preparation, thus reducing your diabetes risk.

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If you’ve been looking through clouded lenses, it may be time to start thinking about cataract surgery so you can see clearly again. And Kansas City is a good place to be if you need cataract surgery. It’s boasts some top notch eye surgeons.

Need help getting started? Follow this simple plan:

Step 1: See your ophthalmologist. Not all cataracts require surgery, so you’ll want to make sure you and your eye doctor are on the same page. Surgery is usually recommended when cataracts begin to interfere with your everyday life.

Your eye doctor may (or may not) refer you to another Kansas City specialist for surgery. Or you can get recommendations from friends and family.

Step 2. Ask questions. Here are some things you may want to ask:

  • What type of cataract surgery do I need? Not all cataracts are alike. Some cataract surgeries are done with lasers; others require manual removal.
  • What tests do I need before surgery? You’ll need a clear artificial lens, known as an intraocular lens (IOL), to replace your clouded lens (cataract). Your doctor will need to take eye measurements for your IOL, and may also want to run additional eye tests.
  • What are the risks of cataract surgery? Although cataract surgery is relatively safe, all surgeries come with some risks (e.g., infection, bleeding).
  • What are my IOL options? There are several options from which to choose; your eye doctor may have a specific type in mind for you.
  • What do I need to do before surgery? You should be given some pre-operative instructions.

Step 3. Make an appointment. If you have cataracts in both eyes, you’ll need two separate appointments, at least four weeks apart. You should also arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery.

Step 4. Follow your preoperative instructions. Preoperative instructions for cataract surgery may include:

  • Stopping certain medications that can increase your risk of bleeding
  • Using prescription eye drops to prevent infection and reduce swelling
  • Not eating after midnight

Step 5. See more clearly. Of course, you’ll have to show up for your scheduled appointment first. You can expect some itching and mild discomfort for a few days after your surgery. Make sure you follow your post-operative instructions.

Need help?

If you feel like you may need some assistance before or after your cataract surgery, contact a Kansas City home care agency.

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Bladder control problems (also known as urinary incontinence) are common in older adults. Many people view them as a normal sign of aging and figure they just have to live with them. But that may not necessarily be the case.

There are three common types of urinary incontinence:

  • Urge incontinence: When you have frequent urges to run to the bathroom, but don’t always get there in time
  • Stress incontinence: Leakage of urine when you laugh or sneeze
  • Overflow incontinence: Frequent (or constant) leakage of urine

There are ways to manage (or even eliminate) all of these bladder control problems. So if you find your incontinence has confined you to your Kansas City home, or has otherwise interfered with your normal activities, it’s time to go see your doctor.

Start with your Kansas City primary care physician. But keep in mind he or she may refer you to a bladder control specialist (urologist).

Your doctor will conduct urine tests and blood tests to try to determine what’s causing your incontinence. You may find it’s something simple like a bladder infection or constipation. If not, your doctor may suggest:

Bladder exercises: More specifically, Kegel exercises, during which you flex and release your pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that would normally stop your urine flow). If you’re a male, squeeze the muscles that would keep you from passing gas. Tighten the muscles, then release. Do these exercises several times throughout the day.

Scheduled bathroom breaks. Schedule bathroom breaks throughout the day (for example, every hour). If that seems to be going well, you can slowly lengthen the time between breaks.

Double voiding. Urinate, then wait a few minutes and go again (or at least try).

Lifestyle changes. Your doctor may ask you to avoid alcohol, cut back on caffeine, quit smoking, lose weight, eat more fiber, and/or limit fluids before bedtime.

If none of these behavioral changes help to control your bladder problems, there are also medical interventions, such as medications, implantable devices, vaginal creams, nerve stimulation, and surgery.

Bladder Control in Someone With Alzheimer’s

If you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia, he or she will eventually develop functional incontinence (bladder control problems caused by the dementia). Here are some things you can try that might help:

Don’t provide alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Examples include caffeinated coffee, tea, and sodas. But do provide plenty of water.

Offer scheduled bathroom breaks. For example, once every hour or two.

Provide appropriate underwear. Something that’s easy to pull down and back up.

Keep pathways clear. To the bathroom, and also to the toilet. Leave the bathroom light on, so it’s easy to find.

Get help. When your loved one’s incontinence becomes too much for you to handle, get help from a Kansas City home care agency that specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Agency caregivers can keep your loved one clean and dry.

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If you’re heading toward your twilight years, there are a number of things things you can do to stay as healthy as possible as you age. And Kansas City is a great place to be; there are tons of resources that can help. Here are some tips for healthy aging in Kansas City:

Nourish your body. Your body needs certain nutrients to maintain optimal health, and the best way to get them is through the foods you eat. You need lots of fruits and vegetables, plus lean protein, low-fat dairy, and whole grains. And almost every Kansas City suburb has a farmers market each summer where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The city also has several Whole Foods Markets where you can buy organic foods.

Be active. You need a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, and mobility exercises to help you maintain balance and flexibility as you age. Go to one of the many Kansas City parks, and hit the walking trails. Or walk around your neighborhood. Buy some hand weights at a local Walmart. Do some stretching exercises. Check with your nearest Kansas City senior center to see if they have free exercise classes. Or join a Kansas City gym.

Maintain a social life. Having an active social life is important as you age. If you don’t currently have a social circle, join a book club at a Kansas City library. Participate in activities at a local senior center. Or join a Kansas City Meetup group for people over 50.

Use your brain. To help prevent Alzheimer’s or other type of dementia, keep your brain busy. Do the Kansas City Star Daily Crossword. Take a class at a local community college. Play Scrabble with friends. Check out books from a Kansas City library.

Control chronic illnesses. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease, can become debilitating if they’re not properly controlled. Follow your Kansas City doctor’s instructions to keep illnesses under control.

Take preventive measures. Keep up on your flu shots, colonoscopies, mammograms, PAP smears, blood pressure screenings, and blood tests as recommended by your Kansas City doctor. Your primary care physician can refer you to any specialists, if necessary.

Get help if you need it. If you’re having trouble preparing nutritious meals, bathing, grooming, dressing, and/or exercising, contact a Kansas City home health agency for help.

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Are you over the age of 65? Did a parent or grandparent have Alzheimer’s disease? Do you have heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol? Any of these things can put you at risk for Alzheimer’s.

Obviously, you can’t change your age or your genetic makeup, but there are still somethings you can do to reduce your risk for dementia. Here are some tips:

Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet can reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s by giving your brain the nutrients it needs. It can also reduce your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which are Alzheimer’s risk factors.

It seems the idea of what constitutes a “healthy diet” has evolved somewhat over time. You still need to eat a diet that’s low in fat and high in foods that are nutritious, like vegetables, whole grains, fruit, low-fat dairy, and lean protein (e.g., fish, poultry, beans, tofu, nuts, seeds). But the current theory on healthy eating is you should stay away from processed or packaged foods, and only eat foods that are found in nature. And stay away from fad diets. They’re not healthy, especially for seniors. The Harvard School of Public Health has developed a Healthy Eating Pyramid and a Healthy Eating Plate to help you best determine what you should be eating and in what quantities.

And here’s a local healthy eating tip. Kansas City has a ton of Farmers Markets where you can stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. City Market is the first that comes to mind. But if that’s too far to drive Google “Overland Park Farmers Market” or “Prairie Village Farmers Market” (or whatever Kansas City area city you live in), and you’ll likely find a Farmers Market near you.

Exercise. Nobody wants to do it (well, most of us don’t), but everybody knows they should. But exercise improves the blood flow to your brain, reducing your risk for Alzheimer’s. It also helps prevent heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, all of which are risk factors for dementia. And here’s another reason why you should exercise, especially if you’re over the age of 65. It can improve your flexibility, balance, and stamina, thereby improving mobility as you age.

To maintain brain health, you’ll need to do a combination of aerobic exercises (e.g., walking, bicycling, swimming) and strength training (e.g., hand weights, push-ups, planks). For added balance and flexibility, you might also want to do some yoga or tai chi.

Keep diabetes in check. Diabetes can increase your risk for Alzheimer’s, so you’ll want to do everything you can to control yours (or to prevent diabetes) in order to reduce your dementia risk. Make sure you’re checking your blood sugar on a regular basis (as instructed by your doctor), as well as taking any insulin or other medications as prescribed. You also need to follow your diabetic diet plan (or the plan outlined above if you’re not currently diabetic) and exercise regularly (See paragraph on exercise above.). Also, if you’re eating a healthier diet and exercising, your medications may need to be adjusted. So let your doctor know what your plan is before you start so he or she can monitor your progress.

Challenge your brain. Whether or not brain games, crossword puzzles, or games like scrabble can actually ward off Alzheimer’s depends on who you ask (and there are reputable sources on both sides). But my 90-year-old aunt is the “Scrabble Queen” and my 87-year old dad does the New York Times crossword puzzle every day, and both are sharp as tacks. My mom, on the other hand, wasn’t big on reading, puzzles, or board games. And she died after a four-year battle with Alzheimer’s at the age of 82. So I’m sticking with the side that believes doing things that challenge your brain helps reduce your risk for dementia.

Keep learning. Take a class you’ve always wanted to take. Play trivia games with friends. Find a new DIY project and give it a try. Learning something new exercises your brain, which can help reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s.

Get help if you need it. If you’re having a tough time cooking healthy meals, exercising, and controlling your diabetes, or if you just want someone to help hone your cognitive skills, you may want to enlist the help of a Kansas City home care agency.

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If you’re growing older and have decided you could use some extra help at home, or if you’re caring someone who needs some additional assistance, it may be time to start looking for a Kansas City home health agency. But where should you start? Here are some things to consider:

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Researchers have shown that brain games and other exercises that are designed to keep the mind sharp may help guard against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These brain exercises can also be fun, and you can do most of them from the comfort of your Kansas City home.

Here are some examples:

Board games. Board games are not only fun, but can also challenge the brain, which can help to prevent Alzheimer’s. Some good examples include Scrabble, Chess, Clue, Mahjong, and any type of trivia game.

Puzzles. Jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Rubik’s cubes, and other types of puzzles exercise your brain, which can help ward off dementia.

Video games. Fast-paced video games have been shown to stimulate the brain and improve cognition.

Apps. Brain-training apps can help sharpen the mind, and may even help to prevent cognitive diseases. Examples include Lumosity, Elevate, Dakim, Fit Brains, and Cognifit.

Reading. Any type of reading stimulates the mind, which helps sustain memory and ward off Alzheimer’s.

Learning new things. Learning a new skill like a new language, a musical instrument, or how to use a computer, exercises your brain and can slow cognitive aging.

Doing something creative. Creative hobbies, such as painting, knitting, or craft activities can help preserve memory and cognition.

Keep in mind that a healthy brain is only one part of the equation. Exercise, healthy eating habits, and maintaining a social life are also important ways to reduce your risk for Alzheimer’s.

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The older you get, the harder it is to lose weight, especially if you’re a woman. So many Kansas City seniors turn to “fad diets” to try to take off the excess pounds. But are those diets healthy?

Fad diets promise dramatic weight loss, and may or may not work in the short term. But they’re not sustainable long term, so even if you do lose the weight, you’ll probably gain it right back.

And, as you may have already guessed, fad diets are not healthy for seniors. Here’s why:

  • Diets that restrict carbohydrates or require fasting can cause your blood sugar to drop. And if you’re taking medication to reduce your blood sugar, it could get dangerously low if your medication isn’t adjusted accordingly.
  • Some high-protein diets allow unlimited fats. Too much fat in your diet can increase your risk of heart disease.
  • Fad diets sometimes eliminate entire food groups to help you lose weight (e.g., meat, dairy, grains). If you’re not getting food from all the food groups, you may become low on nutrients that are essential for good health.

So, what can seniors do to lose weight and still stay healthy? Here are some suggestions:

  • Focus on nutrients:
    • The older you get, the less calories you need. But you also need more nutrients. So concentrate on eating more foods that are low in calories but high in nutrients. Some examples are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean meats, beans, nuts, and seeds.
    • Cut back on foods that are high in calories and low in nutrients. You don’t have to give up your favorite foods completely, but you’ll need to eat them in moderation if you want to lose weight. Examples of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods include desserts; sugary drinks; and white bread, rice, or pasta.
  • Control portions:
    • Use a smaller plate. Dinner-size plates can hold a lot of food, so using a smaller plate can help with portion control.
    • Read food labels. See how many portions are in each package and make sure you’re not eating more than one at a time.
    • Cook meals ahead of time and freeze them in one-portion containers to re-heat when you don’t feel like cooking. Use a scale or measuring cups to make sure your portions are the right size.
    • Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer. While distracted, you may end up eating more than you’d planned.
  • Get help with meal preparation. If you have a tough time preparing your own meals, enlist the help of a caregiver or Kansas City home health agency.
  • Exercise. Regular exercise can not only help you control weight, but can also help you with balance and flexibility. You’ll need to do both aerobic exercise and exercises that will strengthen your muscles. If you need assistance, try joining a Kansas City gym or local senior center.

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