If your parent hasn’t had a cholesterol test recently, it’s a good idea to talk to their doctor about whether they are due for one. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Since there are no symptoms, a person could have high cholesterol without knowing it unless they are tested. If your parent is nervous about having a cholesterol test, it may be helpful to sit down and talk to them about what a cholesterol test entails.
How is Cholesterol Tested?
Cholesterol is tested using a simple blood test. A healthcare professional will take a blood sample from your parent’s arm or finger. There’s very little pain involved and the blood draw is over quickly. From there, the sample is sent to a lab where it is analyzed. The lab will determine the levels of good cholesterol, bad cholesterol, and triglycerides in your parent’s blood. The test results are often available in as little as 24 hours.
What Should Seniors Do to Prepare?
Some cholesterol tests require fasting, and some do not. Your parent’s doctor will tell them how to prepare for the type of test they will have done. If your parent needs to fast, they should:
- Not eat anything for 9 to 12 hours before the test. Drinking water is alright.
- Not eat foods that are high in fat the evening before the test.
- Avoid alcohol and vigorous exercise before being tested.
In most cases, your parent should still take any medications before the test, even if they are told to fast. However, it is a good idea to be sure your parent’s doctor knows about all medicines and supplements your parent takes.
Where Can Seniors Go to Have a Cholesterol Test?
Most of the time, cholesterol is tested in a primary care physician’s office. However, there are sometimes group health screenings available that seniors can take advantage of. If your parent chooses to attend a group screening, both their HDL and total cholesterol levels should be tested. But, even knowing their total cholesterol can alert you to a potential problem.
If your parent has high cholesterol, an elder care provider can help them to lower their level through lifestyle changes. According to the Mayo Clinic, the best way to reduce cholesterol levels is by eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, losing weight, and drinking alcohol only in moderation. An elder care provider can help by preparing healthy meals for your parent. Elder care providers can also drive your parent to exercise classes, take them for walks, or be an encouraging presence while they exercise at home.
If you or someone you know needs elder care in Hutchinson, MN, contact Prairie River Home Care. We provide quality and affordable home care services for many fragile or senior members in the communities we serve. Call us at (888) 660-5772 for more information.