Immune System Boosters for Older Adults
Having a strong immune system is important for people of all ages. It’s especially important for seniors, particularly during the cold winter months. A strong immune system enables your body to fight off infections, including those pesky cold and flu germs that are so prevalent this time of year. If you’re helping your elderly loved one stay healthy and strong this winter, we’ve put together a list of our top tips to improve seniors’ immune systems.
1. Wash hands frequently.
As we continue dealing with the impact of COVID-19, we’re all well aware that frequent hand washing is a way to stop the spread of harmful germs. Have your loved one wash their hands before and after preparing any food, before eating, after using the bathroom, after coming home from being outside, and after they cough or sneeze. Hands should always be washed with warm water and soap for at least 30 seconds, and it’s important to clean under the fingernails as well. The cold winter air often makes everyone’s skin dry, so we also recommend your loved one keeps a small tube of hand lotion nearby to moisturize after frequent washing.
2. Be mindful of nutrition.
The food we eat fuels us, fortifies our bodies and helps keep our immune systems strong. Eating a well-balanced diet is important for maintaining our health, particularly for seniors. Dietary and nutrition needs often change as we age, so speak with your loved one’s doctor to learn more about what healthy foods they should be eating on a regular basis. Their doctor may also recommend a multivitamin or supplements, depending on mom or dad’s needs.
3. Stay active.
Exercise is a great way to keep your immune system healthy, and it doesn’t need to be anything difficult or intensive to make a difference. Regular activity like daily walks and gentle stretching is very beneficial to your loved one’s immune system, as well as their overall health! We know motivation can be low during the colder months and it’s tempting to remain wrapped up warm at home. However, they’ll feel much better when you incorporate some form of exercise into their daily routine.
4. Get the flu shot.
We’re in the midst of cold and flu season, and getting the flu shot is one of the best ways your loved one can protect his or her self. There’s a specially formulated senior flu shot for people ages 65 and older that provides extra protection, and if your doctor gives you the okay, it’s a great way to help keep your immune system strong this winter.
5. Get good quality sleep.
Did you know that poor quality sleep can interfere with the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful germs and bacteria? We’ve all had nights where we didn’t sleep well, and we’ve all felt the effects the next day. Remind your senior parent that stress and excess caffeine consumption can negatively impact sleep, while regular exercise, drinking plenty of water, and eating a well-balanced diet can help dramatically improve sleep quality. Creating a bedtime routine for your loved one to follow can also help their body and mind get ready for bed at the same time each time, thus making it easier to fall asleep and get a good night’s rest.
At UMC, we take the health of our residents very seriously. Part of our mission as senior caregivers is to do everything we can to support our seniors’ immune systems through our offerings. Each full-service community offers senior meal plans prioritizing nutrition, daily exercise programs and enhanced health and safety guidelines the facility follows in accordance with the CDC.