The Beat Goes On: Heart Health, Aging, and Driving Safety

An older man and woman in a kitchen cooking

Heart health, driving safety, aging, and independence may seem like they’re part of a random word association game, but these concepts are all key to ensuring older adults maintain a healthy aging process. We all want our older loved ones and the older patients we care for to continue having a fulfilling life where they engage in the community and activities they enjoy. Making healthy choices to improve heart health contributes to better overall health and wellness. Developing healthy habits can also help an older adult stay in the driver’s seat longer and contribute to their overall road safety.

Older adults are at a greater risk of injury when in a crash and may have a longer recovery period from these injuries. They are also likely to experience lasting impacts on their daily activities because of those injuries. In general, older adults are more fragile than other drivers, leading to a higher risk of serious injuries or fatalities in a crash.

We’ve compiled resources healthcare providers, caregivers, and family members can share with older adults to help them improve their heart health, their overall health and wellbeing, and their road safety, whether as drivers or pedestrians.

Healthy Eating.

Finding heart healthy recipes that are also tasty has become easier with the rise in cooking shows, food-based social media channels, and the blogosphere, but sometimes it’s hard to dig through all the commentary and get to the recipes. Fortunately, there are some great places online where the recipes are readily available, research-based, and free for you and your loved ones to use.

Healthy Moving.

If your patient or loved one is starting an exercise program for the first time following an injury or illness, or maybe just trying something new, there are some great resources on getting started with moving and stretching. As you may be aware, older adults may be able to live longer and healthier lives when they increase physical activity, and the positive impacts are seen in moderate-intensity activities as well, according to recent research. Make sure to speak with a doctor or healthcare provider before beginning a new exercise activity.

Healthy Connections.

Staying socially connected to loved ones and the community has implications for our mental, emotional, and physical health. This was backed by a report on the Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation from the Surgeon General’s Office.

Healthy Thinking.

Cognitive changes can be a part of the aging process, and some of us experience problems with memory and other cognitive abilities. While regular exercise, maintaining social connections, and mental stimulation like Wordle or Sudoku can all help improve cognitive function, another arrow we can add to the quiver is mindfulness and meditation. In a recent meta-analysis, researchers have shown how mindfulness training can help adults and older adults have better executive functioning and memory.