Unhealthy habits are difficult to turn around, especially if they’re already having an impact on physical wellbeing. Exercise and a good diet are important for people of all ages, and a personal support worker (PSW) knows the importance of those habits, especially later on in a client’s life. When it comes to managing hypertension (high blood pressure), lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
It’s estimated that one out of every five Canadians lives with hypertension, and it’s particularly common among older adults. It’s regarded as a silent killer because it has no symptoms, but high blood pressure can eventually lead to serious conditions like heart attack, stroke, or coronary artery disease. May is Hypertension Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to take on board some tips to address this health problem.
Blood Pressure Readings Should Be Carried Out Regularly
Home blood pressure monitors are quite common, and regularly taking measurements can be a good idea. The cuffs with this equipment should be appropriately sized for the client to ensure that an accurate reading is taken.
A healthy blood pressure range is usually seen as 120/80. The first figure refers to Systolic Pressure—the pressure in arteries when the heart beats. The second figure measures Diastolic Pressure—the pressure in arteries between heartbeats. Both figures record in millimeters of mercury and higher figures mean increased blood pressure levels.
Clients should avoid food, exercise, caffeine, or smoking for one hour before blood pressure readings are taken in both arms. That’s because these activities could lead to an inaccurate reading where problems are left unidentified.
Grads of Personal Support Worker Courses Can Help Clients With Diet and Exercise
The diet needed to combat high blood pressure follows an almost identical pattern to a regular healthy diet. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is seen as a helpful guide, and it seeks to limit the consumption of saturated and total fats like dairy and meat products. Salt also contributes to high blood pressure. As you assist your clients during mealtimes throughout your PSW career, you should be mindful about this and limit the amount of salt included in meals.
Potassium, magnesium, and calcium are seen as the three key elements of a healthy diet aimed at reducing hypertension. These elements are more prevalent in vegetarian diets, so fruit and vegetables should be increased in your client’s diet. Low-fat dairy products—which are a terrific source of calcium—are also promoted as well as brown rice, potatoes, and tomatoes—which are high in magnesium.
Maintaining a healthy weight lowers blood pressure, so exercise should be encouraged too. For older clients, this could mean walking a bit more during the day or participating in an age-appropriate exercise class. Chair exercises are a great form of exercise for people who have difficulty with mobility, and can easily be worked into a daily routine.
Making Sure That Clients Take Blood Pressure Medication at the Right Times
Dietary and lifestyle change may not be enough to adequately reduce hypertension levels. For some clients, their doctor may have had to prescribe medication. There are three main groups of blood pressure medication. Thiazidediuretics target the kidneys by eliminating salt and water, Beta Blockers slow down the heartbeat, while ACE inhibitors ease pressure by opening up blood vessels. Professionals with a personal support worker certificate know it’s important to follow the doctor’s advice and ensure clients are taking their medication at the right time.
Dietary supplements may also be seen as an easier way to achieve a balanced diet. If a doctor has recommended these as well, ensuring that clients regularly take them will help to improve their health and prevent further problems form arising.
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