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It’s Not Too Late for Simple Lifestyle Changes To Benefit Seniors

Elderly woman lifting weights
Researchers revealed that adopting modest healthy habits considerably lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality.

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Even small steps in eating, exercising and acquiring healthy habits are a good, healthy start to a better quality of life for seniors. And one good thing can lead to another. Researchers said that four changes in a four-year period lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality considerably in a study group.

Q. My 82-year-old father has such an unhealthy lifestyle, and I can’t seem to persuade him that a change would make a difference in his overall health and his risk of heart problems. What advice could I give him?

Let your father read the following information, which could be difficult to refute. According to research from the Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, simple lifestyle changes can in fact make a difference in the lives of seniors.1 The study – entitled “Turning Back the Clock: Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle in Middle Age” – found that four healthy behavioral changes can impact older adults, even later in life.

The study, which was reported in The American Journal of Medicine, discovered that people who achieved at least four of five healthy behavior changes reduced their risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by 35 percent and experienced a 40 percent reduction in mortality compared with people with less healthy lifestyles. Those four habits included:

  1. Eating at least five fruits and vegetables daily
  2. Exercising at least 2.5 hours per week
  3. Maintaining a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18.5 and 30 kg/m (Note: a 5-foot-8, 197-pound person would have BMI of 30.)
  4. No smoking.

Researchers revealed that adopting these four modest healthy habits considerably lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality in a relatively short-term four-year follow-up period.

This data might help persuade your dad. Ask your father if he would consider enlisting the assistance of his doctor or a nutritionist to develop a plan. In addition, your dad might just need more support than you can provide. If so, consider encouraging him to hire extra help, such as a CAREGiverSM from the local Home Instead® office.

CAREGivers are trained to help seniors in their homes with the kind of non-medical services such as meal preparation that could keep him fit longer. It’s another lifestyle change that may lead to his better health.


1. Press release online at

Last revised: October 11, 2011

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