Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects two out of every three people over the age of 75. Medically defined as “blood pressure that measures over 140/90 mm Hg” (we’ll go more into that shortly), it sometimes tends to be treated less vigorously in the elderly, mainly because to induce a sudden large drop in blood pressure could prove dangerous for them, compared to someone in their 30’s or 40’s . Medication side effects can also complicate treatment. Regardless, much can be done to lessen the damage this condition can cause.
What Is “High Blood Pressure?”
A common analogy is this: imagine that your parents’ arteries are a garden hose. When the heart pumps blood through a healthy hose free of buildup on its inner walls, pressure remains at optimal levels. But plaque from high cholesterol sticking to the arteries makes the blood pathway narrower, thereby building up pressure.
Two numbers are used to measure our blood pressure. The first one is “systolic pressure.” The second is called “diastolic.” While we won’t delve too deeply regarding their extensive definitions, here’s what you and your elderly loved one need to know right now, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute:
- Normal blood pressure is considered to be 120/80, although heart disease risk begins at levels of 115/75.
- “Prehypertension” occurs when there is a systolic pressure range of 120-139 and a diastolic range of 80-89. This is a great time to update your eating and exercise habits in order to accommodate a healthier lifestyle, because half all people 65 and over who are diagnosed with prehypertension develop full-blown hypertension within four years.
While doctors generally expect blood pressure to rise a bit during the average person’s senior years, it should also be noted that hypertension and its warning signs should still be closely monitored, simply because the same blood pressure could have much more harmful effects for a 70-year-old that it would for a 40-year-old.
If your mom or dad is at risk of hypertension, or has already been diagnosed, approach their physician to find out the best route of treatment. It could involve something as simple as keeping track of their food intake and staying active, or it might entail drug therapy, or a combination of both. The best solution, as with most health issues, includes a solid education on risks and prevention.
There is so much to think about when entering the later stages of life. If you are considering elder care options, we at 805Aging can help. Our professional staff specializes in assisting you to choose the right kind of care for your loved one.
We conduct regular check-ins when you are unable to do so. 805Aging also provides oversight and detailed feedback to the family to keep your loved one safe and well-cared for day or night, weekday or weekend, holiday and every day.
We have the resources. We can hold your hand. We can guide you. Your peace of mind is our main goal, and is well assured. To find out more, call us at 805-750-4755 or visit our website and sign up for our monthly newsletter: www.805Aging.com.
There is no manual on how to take care of your parents as they age. They had a baby book when you were young. You have us. -Amy