Cold and flu season is always a difficult time for Elders. Illness can be dangerous for Elders, especially if their immune system isn’t working to its full potential. To help you and your loved ones tackle this winter’s cold and flu season we have created some tips on how to boost your immune system.
Exercise helps rejuvenate your body and helps increase your immune system’s ability to ward off illness. It can be difficult for Elders to get the necessary exercise during the cold winter months, especially when it is snowy or icy outside. Being active by walking at the mall or any other large indoor public area or signing up for aquatic fitness classes at your local, indoor pool are easy ways for Elders to get some exercise without being affected by winter weather. But effective exercise doesn’t have to involve high intensity or long workouts. Simply increasing one’s heartrate by just a bit goes a long way in helping Elders maintain their immunity health. Elders can also try low intensity yoga, a range of upper body movement exercises (with or without light dumbbells or wrist weights), riding a stationary bike, or even just some seated exercises.
Get the Right Nutrients
Eating the right things can have a large impact on the immune system’s ability to keep you healthy. Some essential components of a healthy diet include protein and fruits and vegetables that have vitamins A, C and E. Vitamin A can be found red and orange veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes and red peppers. Spinach is also a good source of vitamin A. Most people are aware that vitamin C is useful in boosting immune health and can be found in citrus fruits, but strawberries are also a great source of vitamin C. Protein and vitamin E can be found in lean meats and seafood, beans, nuts, and nut butters. Many Elders enjoy having a smoothie in the morning to help get their vitamin A and C and get vitamin E and protein from snacks throughout the day and a dinner that includes some sort of lean meat.
Get Some Rest
In addition to regular exercise, Elders also need adequate sleep in order to keep their immune systems in top shape. Even light exercise can increase the body’s need for quality rest and sleep. During sleep, the body, along with the immune system, is able to recover, which allows it to better fight off illness. Seniors (and just about everyone else) should aim for eight to nine hours of sleep per night. But all sleep is not created equal. Just because one dozes off in the middle of the day doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting the quality of sleep that can help improve immune system function. Quality sleep comes from maintaining a regular sleeping schedule and keeping your bedroom dark, quiet and cool when you are sleeping.
Get Your Vaccines and Stay Clean
Getting the annual flu vaccination can reduce one’s risk of getting the flu by 40 to 60 percent. It is also recommended for Elders to get the pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccines. Vaccines work by prompting one’s body to begin to produce antibodies, which, in time, can help prevent one from getting sick. It usually takes about two weeks after getting the flu vaccine for one’s body to produce enough antibodies to ward off illness.
Staying healthy during cold and flu season also means doing the little things, like washing one’s hands regularly and avoiding shaking hands or being around people who are sick. Many Elders carry on-the-go bottles of hand sanitizer with them or even a facemask that can be worn when in confined areas with lots of people.
This blog contains discussion about health-related subjects and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnose or treat any disease or illness. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact your doctor immediately or call 9-1-1.