It’s here. The dreaded cold and flu season. Everyone’s on high alert for warning signs of influenza and looking for ways to avoid it. For seniors, flu prevention is especially important because risk of developing flu-related complications increases for adults ages 65 and older.
Those complications include pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory infections – all of which are a leading cause of death in people over age 65 worldwide. Immune systems naturally weaken with age. That means when a condition like influenza strikes, it can wreak more havoc on the body for an older person.
It also means it’s even more important for seniors to do whatever they can to strengthen their immune systems.
Best Ways to Boost Your Immune System
While it’s impossible to never get sick, you can take precautions to lower your risk and improve your immune system. Certain activities, like smoking cigarettes, are known to weaken the immune system. Just the same, there are certain things that can help strengthen it and even help you slow down your aging.
- Take a daily multivitamin and eat a well-balanced diet. Vitamins and nutrients are what fuels your body’s ability to fight viruses, bacteria, and illness. If you’re malnourished or not eating enough healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, your body will feel it. You’ll lose energy, feel sluggish, and become more susceptible to illness. Give your body the fuel it needs to stay strong.
- Stay up-to-date on your immunizations. Vaccines are proven to boost your immune system’s ability to fight off certain diseases. Think of them as a shield in battle. Why would you choose to go to battle without the help of a shield keeping danger at bay? Getting vaccines to protect yourself from diseases like influenza, pneumonia, shingles, and others is a great way to stay healthy.
- Quit smoking. As mentioned above, research has shown a direct connection between smoking and weakened immune systems. Smoking changes the major components of immune cells. And while quitting smoking isn’t easy, it’s one of the smartest things you can do for your health. Once you quit smoking, you immediately benefit from a stronger immune system.
- Stay mentally and physically active. A strong body and mind equals a strong immune system. It’s crucial to maintain a level of physical and mental stimulation each day – even if it means taking a 30-minute walk with the dog, or playing solitaire on your computer. Make an extra effort to exercise your mind and body to prevent illness.
- Get enough sleep each night. Sleep restores the body and mind. And while it may seem difficult to get quality sleep (thanks a lot, multiple trips to the bathroom), it’s important you get enough of it. Most seniors should strive for at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to feel rested. This will help restore your immune system for another day of warding off illness.
- Lower your stress. We get it; life gets stressful. But stress has a direct impact on your health and even your immune system, especially with increased age. One immune system booster is to reduce as much stress in your life as possible. If you’re mentally and emotionally content, your physical body will benefit.
Of course, the age-old tips of frequent handwashing and covering your coughs are crucial for preventing the cold and flu this season. But remember – there are bigger lifestyle habits you can form to give your body the immune system booster it needs long-term.
As a continuing care retirement community, Concordia Life Care Community is dedicated to the health and wellness of its residents, no matter their age. You have the power to enjoy your retirement through healthy lifestyle choices at a community that feels like home. View our floor plans today, or contact us to schedule a visit to see all our beautiful community has to offer.