While we may associate the winter season with the common cold and flu, there could be other health concerns that are also prevalent in the chillier months. The American College of Cardiology recently found cholesterol levels fluctuate with the seasons, becoming higher during the winter. Though the causes of high cholesterol in seniors are not exclusive to the change in seasons, it is something that should be factored into your health and care.
There is no single reason for increased cholesterol levels in the winter; rather, there are many elements that combine to cause such a spike. When it’s cold outside, people tend to respond by staying indoors. This leads to less exercise during the winter months than in the warmer times of the year, such as spring and summer. Even those seniors with access to an indoor gym at their assisted living communities might not feel motivated to stick to their regular exercise routine during the bleaker days of winter. In addition to a lack of exercise, people generally consume more calories and indulge in fattier foods during the winter, especially around the holidays.
Lack of vitamin D also plays a part in a rise in cholesterol levels during the winter because many people get less sun exposure during this time of the year. Research shows vitamin D can help to reduce “bad” cholesterol and keep levels in balance.
Though for some these cholesterol fluctuations do not mean great health risks, those with high cholesterol or borderline high cholesterol need to be extra vigilant because a seasonal increase could create unsafe levels. Those nearing or at this upper cholesterol limit should keep a close eye on how seasonal changes affect their cholesterol levels and should consult with their doctor if they feel they may be at a higher risk than previously suspected.
While there are a number of ways to reduce the causes of high cholesterol in seniors, the most important factor is diet. While eating healthy is a good practice for anyone, it is a particularly critical aspect of care for seniors living in assisted living communities. As we age, heart health becomes an even bigger component of our overall care. Limiting meat, opting for low-fat dairy options, avoiding saturated fats and sticking to a diet rich in fiber, nuts, fruits, veggies and complex carbs will help keep your good and bad cholesterol levels balanced.
Though cholesterol levels will likely decline again once summer hits, it’s important not to ignore the changes that occur during the colder months. Higher cholesterol levels in the winter have an impact on your long-term health, contributing to hardening arteries and blockages. To keep yourself and your heart in the best shape, maintain healthy eating and a regular exercise routine, no matter the season. Though the shift in seasons may still affect your cholesterol levels, eating right and working out can help protect you from the changes.
If you are in the market for affordable assisted living for seniors, contact us. The staff at Village at Oakwood assisted living in Oklahoma City is caring and compassionate, providing residents with a safe and healthy environment.