As you age, you become more susceptible to certain diseases and infections. The body’s defenses weaken with age, and your immune system does not respond as quickly as it did when you were younger. Thankfully, there are some ways that seniors can try to combat illnesses by boosting your immune system with just a few simple lifestyle changes detailed below.
1. Get the Proper Nutrition
Eating right can make a world of difference in your body’s ability to fight off invaders. Daily, seniors need about 5 servings of vegetables, 4 servings of fruit, 6 servings of whole grains, 3 servings of dairy, and 3 servings of good fats and oils. During the week, seniors need about 2 servings of fish or other seafood, 5 servings of nuts and seeds, and 8 servings of poultry, meat, or eggs. Do not overeat or indulge in snacks with low nutritional value, like candies. Don’t skip meals; if you aren’t hungry at mealtimes, eat something light but high in calories and filling, like nuts or avocado. Try not to worry about eating exact numbers. Use the USDA’s Choose MyPlate as a guide for your healthy eating habits.
2. Take Your Vitamins
Seniors need more of specific nutrients than younger adults do. As you age, your body doesn’t absorb certain vitamins as well as it used to. Always ask your doctor before starting any sort of supplement. May seniors will need additional supplements for nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Whenever possible, choose foods that are high in fiber and low in sodium.
3. Get Vaccinated
Getting your flu shot every year is the best way to protect yourself against the different strains of the influenza virus. The flu virus mutates every year. In order to develop a new vaccine every year, scientists look at previous flu strains, seasonal changes, and viral patterns. It is recommended that everyone over the age of 49 get the flu shot instead of the nasal spray. The flu shot contains an inactive (dead) virus that cannot make you sick. It can sometimes cause mild side-effects, but they usually only last a day to a few days after receiving the vaccine. Other vaccines that are recommended for seniors are Tdap, Shingles, MMR, and a few other possible recommendations, depending on your health and your vaccination history.
Having a regular exercise routine can help to reduce your stress levels and reset your sleep cycle. It also promotes a healthy heart and good circulation. Start your own exercise routine with a few easy exercises each day. Go on evening walks or even short jogs if you can. You will be less likely to suffer an injury if you always make sure to stretch before and after you exercise to keep your body loose.
5. Find Ways to Reduce Stress
Stress can raise your blood pressure and it raises the cortisol levels in your body’s bloodstream. High levels of stress have been linked to several different illnesses, like heart disease, mental health issues, and stomach problems. ou can never eliminate stress entirely from your daily life, but you can find healthy ways to deal with it whenever your stress levels get too high.
6. Stay Hydrated
Dehydration can lead to complications, like seizures, kidney failure, and even death in severe cases. Seniors between the ages of 85 and 99 are six times more likely than any other age group to be admitted to the hospital for dehydration. This is often because of medication side effects and age-related changes in the body. To make sure that you stay hydrated, stock your fridge with healthy drinks like water, milk, and 100 percent juices. Keep foods that are high in water as well, like fruits, soups, and yogurt. Having healthy, nourishing food and drink choices nearby is an easy way to help yourself get enough liquids in your system each day.
7. Wash Your Hands
You can’t avoid getting sick all together, but you can combat many illnesses fairly easily simply by washing your hands regularly. Washing your hands before and after meals, after spending time in the bathroom, or after being out in a public place can scrub away viruses, bacteria, and other germs. Maintaining good hygiene habits can help to keep you happy and healthy and living your best life possible.
8. Get Enough Sleep
Many senior adults have irregular sleep patterns. Poor sleep habits and medication side effects may be what’s affecting your sleep routine. And while you can’t control everything surrounding how, when, and how much you sleep, there are some steps that you can take to make sure that you sleep better each night. When you go to bed, turn off all of the lights. Don’t watch television in the bedroom. Invest in a good, comfortable mattress, exercise regularly, and avoid stimulants like alcohol and caffeine later in the day.