Having elevated cholesterol levels may lead to cardiovascular disorders such as heart disease and strokes. As the body ages, organ systems become less effective and may malfunction. These problems, combined with lifestyle choices, can cause LDL cholesterol to rise in older adults.
The Aging Liver
As adults age, telomeres on chromosomes shorten, which causes cells to lose the ability to reproduce and replace damaged cells. When replication no longer takes place in the liver, the number of cells with mitochondria decreases. The cells then don’t have the fuel to function properly. Blood vessels lose the ability to supply sufficient blood flow. Free radicals move in and cause further cell damage and death. These combined actions interfere with the liver’s ability to metabolize LDL cholesterol by up to 35 percent. Thus, cholesterol levels rise, and any hepatic disease process compounds the problem.
Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of homecare services. You can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
The pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, which in turn triggers the release of thyroid T3 and T4 hormones. These compounds are necessary to monitor and regulate many systems throughout the body. One of the thyroid’s functions includes metabolizing LDL cholesterol. However, in aging adults, the thyroid often experiences diminished function. The organ may not have sufficient levels of the hormones needed to function. Additionally, low thyroid levels enable greater cholesterol absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.
Sometimes, despite having elevated TSH levels, the thyroid malfunctions and cannot metabolize LDL cholesterol efficiently. Even borderline low levels cause a condition known as subclinical hypothyroidism. Statistics indicate that approximately 13 million adults in the United States have undiagnosed and untreated hypothyroidism. The condition is found more often in women. Without correction, cholesterol levels in the blood rise.
Until women reach the age of menopause, circulating estrogen protects the body from cholesterol. However, once menopause begins, estrogen levels decrease and triglycerides, LDL levels, and total cholesterol levels rise, while HDL levels decrease.
Men typically consume more dairy products and animal fats than women. As a result, men are more likely to have higher cholesterol levels. When men pass the age of 45, their cholesterol levels rise more rapidly.
As adults become older, they may become less physically active. Whether inactivity is related to physical impairment or various medical conditions, it enables LDL cholesterol levels and triglycerides to rise, while HDL cholesterol decreases.
Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Des Moines, IA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.
Healthy Cholesterol Levels
Older adults need to have their cholesterol levels checked as often as recommended by their healthcare providers. Normal levels are as follows:
- Total cholesterol levels should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter, or mg/dL. Levels above 240 mg/dL are too high.
- LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL. Levels over 160 mg/dL are too high.
- HDL levels need to be 60 mg/dL or higher. Levels of 40 mg/dL or less are too low.
In Des Moines, at-home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. If you need compassionate, professional home care for your loved one, call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438.