This Valentine’s Day show your love with 4 heart-healthy gifts

Valentine’s Day is all about showing those we care about how much we love and appreciate them. February is also American Heart Month so it’s a great idea to show our loved ones how much we care for their cardiovascular health, especially if they are older. People age 65 and older are much more likely than younger people to suffer a heart attack, to have a stroke, or to develop coronary heart disease (commonly called heart disease) and heart failureHeart disease is also a major cause of disability, limiting the activity and eroding the quality of life of millions of older people.

Aging can cause changes in the heart and blood vessels. For example, as we get older, our hearts can’t beat as fast during physical activity or times of stress as it did when we were younger. Over the years, we may develop a buildup of fatty deposits in the walls of our arteries that can lead to heart disease. However, the most common aging change is increased stiffness of the large arteries, called arteriosclerosis. This causes high blood pressure, or hypertension, which becomes more common as we age.

Give the gift of health this Valentine’s Day

Fortunately, the good news is that heart disease can be avoided or managed with healthy lifestyle practices such as decreasing stress and eating a proper, balanced diet. Here are some tips for ensuring you and your loved ones have a heart-healthy Valentine’s Day.

  1. Chocolate alternatives.
    1. A box of chocolates or other candy is one of the traditional Valentine’s Day treats. However, store-bought candies can be high in sugar and fat. Instead of a large box of candy, opt for smaller boxes with three to four pieces. You can also gift a basket of fruit that has natural sugar and healthy nutrients instead of sweets with added sugars.
    2. Creating a special package with heart-healthy snacks is also a great way to show you care. Fill a pretty container with bags of trail mix, whole grain crackers, uncoated granola bars, raisins and other dried fruit snacks. Throw in some bottles of water, a few sugar-free candies and top with some decorations.
  2. Shower them with flowers.
    1. Our emotional health also contributes to maintaining our cardiovascular system. Stress and anxiety can trigger inflammation that negatively impacts the heart. Giving flowers can actually help benefit your loved one’s emotional health. Research conducted by Rutgers University found that flowers create instant delight and happiness as well as increase enjoyment and life satisfaction.
    2. Participants in the research reported feeling less depressed, anxious and agitated after receiving flowers. Whether real or artificial, flowers can help brighten up a person’s day and surroundings. Choose a bouquet of some festive blooms and arrange them in a nice, study vase. Finish by adding a ribbon and a sweet message.   
  3. Quality time.
    1. Quality time is one of the most meaningful gifts and nothing warms the heart more than connecting with those we love. Plan an in-person visit to remind your loved ones how special they are to you. Visits help nursing home residents stay emotionally and socially engaged with their families and friends. When visiting a resident, choose a fun activity that you can enjoy together such as making crafts, watching a favorite TV program, reading to them, looking at a photo album or decorating their room.
    2. If you cannot visit in-person, phone your loved one or schedule a virtual visit. Video chats are a free and easy way to reach out. Video chatting apps like FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Duo, Skype, and Zoom are free to download and use on your phone and computer. You will need a computer or tablet with Internet access or a smartphone with a data plan. Smartphone data usage charges may apply. For the convenience of Capitol Hill residents and their families, video chats can be scheduled on our website.
  4. Say it with words.
    1. Whether traditional or electronic, greeting cards can be an incredibly uplifting way to let your loved one know that you are thinking about them. They can also double as a cheerful holiday decoration.
    2. At Capitol Hill Healthcare, we are dedicated to supporting our residents’ physical and emotional health. To help loved ones connect with our residents during holidays and special times, we have free e-cards available on our website. Click here to learn more.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the people in your life this Valentine’s Day, the most important thing you can do is to let them know that you care about them and their well-being. Have a safe and happy Valentine’s Day!