Elderly people tend to have weaker immune systems than their younger counterparts. Seniors' immune systems respond more slowly to infections, and their bodies may heal more slowly from diseases. With the cold and flu season approaching, it is important to keep a close eye on your or your elderly loved one's health and well-being. Here are six ways seniors can improve their immune systems.
Eat a Nutritious Diet
As a person gets older, it becomes even more important that he or she eat a healthy diet. Nutritious foods like salmon, spinach, bananas and carrots can improve immune function and reduce one's chances of falling ill. Make sure you or your family member gets five servings of fruits and vegetables every day and eats complex carbohydrates at every meal.
Avoid foods with empty calories, like biscuits and cakes. These foods are high in calories and sugar content but do not offer much in the way of nutrients. If you or your family member is hungry before a meal, choose a nutritious snack, like an apple or a handful of carrots.
Get the Flu Shot
Individuals who are 65 or older are more likely to develop complications from the flu, so it's essential for them to get the flu shot. Doctors recommend older adults receive flu shots specifically designed for people their age because these vaccines contain four times the amount of antigens that typical flu shots hold.
Excess stress can suppress an elderly person's immune system and make him or her more susceptible to illnesses. If you notice that your elderly family member is overwhelmed or more irritable than usual, you should intervene. Find out why your loved one is stressed out and offer ways to help. For example, if your family member is stressed about getting the house ready for winter on time, take time to help him or her winterize the house.
Exercise is another effective way your elderly loved one can boost his or her immune system. Exercise does this by flushing bacteria out of the lungs and slowing down the release of stress hormones. The good news is that your family member doesn't have to do anything strenuous to experience an immune boost. Taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood or swimming in a pool at the local health club can be enough to strengthen your family member's immune system.
Get Enough Rest
Some elderly people think they need less sleep than they did when they were younger. This is not true. Senior citizens still need eight hours of sleep a night to function properly. If your elderly loved one does not get much sleep at night, his or her body won't have a chance to repair itself and fight off diseases.
Thirst decreases as people get older, so elderly people are in danger of dehydration. To prevent your elderly loved one from getting dehydrated and sick, encourage him or her to drink eight cups of water a day. Advise your family member to keep a water bottle by his or her side at all times. In addition, warn your elderly loved one to avoid drinking too many caffeinated or alcoholic beverages so they can better stay hydrated with water.
There are many things senior citizens can do to improve their immune systems. If your elderly loved one makes an effort to take good care of his or her body, he or she will be better off for it. If you want to learn more about boosting immunity and wellness in the elderly, contact Soquel Leisure Villa Inc. We'll be happy to tell you what we know.