If the doctor has concerns regarding your parent’s blood pressure, take it seriously.  High blood pressure is very real and serious; it could mean the difference between your parent living a long, healthy life, or one cut short.

What can you do to help your loved one maintain a healthy blood pressure, especially if they are dealing with some confusion or cognitive impairment?

Have their blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it has no symptoms. High blood pressure can damage arteries, the heart and other organs without the person realizing it. If the blood pressure reading is over 140/90, talk to their doctor.

Health consequences that can happen over time from high blood pressure include:

  • Damage to the heart
  • Damage to the coronary arteries
  • Stroke
  • Kidney damage
  • Vision loss
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Memory loss
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Angina
  • Peripheral artery disease

The risk of high blood pressure increases with the following factors:

  • Age
  • Heredity
  • Gender
  • Overweight
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Physical inactivity

Lifestyle modifications are the most effective ways to help those with high blood pressure. One modification is to lower sodium intake. Pay attention to the salt content in foods, and go easy on the shaker.

It’s also recommend to eat healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, dairy and whole grains which provide a flexible and balanced plan.  The following are suggestions as an everyday diet:

  • Vegetables, fruits, and low-fat/fat-free dairy products
  • Whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and seeds
  • Limits sodium, sweets, sugary beverages, and red meats

Encourage your parent to get out and enjoy some physical activity.  This will help keep their body strong and weight maintained. Use discretion to what is physically comfortable.  Examples of safe activities include walking, swimming or stretching exercises. Encourage exercise and eat healthy as much as possible.

Finally, speak to your parent’s doctor about high blood pressure medication. There are many prescriptions that are safe and effective for older adults, and could help them get their blood pressure back on track when combined with a healthy diet and exercise.