Natural Ways to Boost Seniors’ Immune Systems

A healthy immune system is the body’s first and most important line of defense against disease and illness, especially for people susceptible to age-related injuries and health problems. Whether you or a loved one are taking medication, being treated for a medical condition or feeling better than ever, making practical improvements to your diet and lifestyle may also improve how you feel at any age and stage of life.

8 Tips and Tricks

According to Harvard Medical School, the body’s ability to successfully build and maintain immunity against disease and infection consists of a delicate and complicated system researchers are still trying to fully understand. As people age, immune function tends to naturally decline for a number of reasons, which can help to explain why adults over the age of 65 tend to become more susceptible to a number of ailments and health risks, ranging from memory loss and dementia to arthritis and heart disease.

As researchers and health professionals continue to study how factors like diet, environment, and lifestyle affect overall health, wellness, and the body’s ability to prevent and fight illness, good old-fashioned prevention, and active healthy living can go a long way toward preserving and even improving a senior’s quality of life and immune system.

While there are no magic pills or silver bullets when it comes to healthy aging, there are some practical suggestions anyone can follow to boost energy and remain active.

Diet and Exercise

Many people tend to slow down and become more cautious as they age, and seniors are understandably afraid of falling or developing injuries that can compromise their ability to move freely and continue to live independently. But studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle can pose serious health risks. The trick for seniors is to find activities that are enjoyable and appropriate for their individual fitness levels.

1. Exercise

Speak to a physician to find safe and healthy exercisesSeniors benefit from physical activities that incorporate stretching, balance, cardio and strength training.

2. Drink Enough Water

Seniors are often prescribed one or more medications, which can increase their risk of dehydration in some cases. Staying hydrated is an integral part of a healthy mind and body.

3. Eat for Health and Enjoyment

The effort to eat the right balance of healthy foods with sufficient vitamins and nutrients can be stressful at any age, and seniors often have dietary restrictions and limitations that can make mealtime feel like more of a chore. Experimenting with new recipes and food combinations that incorporate the right mix of fruits, vegetables, healthy grains, and proteins can help them enjoy meals that are also good for their health.

4. Get the Flu Shot

Seniors are at higher risk of developing and being hospitalized for complications from the flu. Although it is not 100 percent effective, getting the flu shot every year can lower a senior’s risk of developing the flu and lessen the severity of symptoms if they do get sick.

5. Get Enough Sleep

In addition to affecting mental clarity and focus, prolonged sleep deprivation may also affect anyone’s immune system. 

The Mind-Body Connection

Even physically fit and healthy people should make an effort to monitor their mental and emotional health. While deep breathing and relaxation practices like meditation and yoga may not be the first things to come to mind when thinking about fighting off disease and infections, studies have found immune function and health are also affected by uncontrolled stress and anxiety.

6. Establish Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Stress and Anxiety

From taking a relaxing walk to calling a loved one when they are feeling anxious or lonely, it is especially important for seniors to find healthy outlets for stress.

7. Embrace Community to Beat Loneliness and Depression

Loneliness and social isolation are a growing problem for society at large, but seniors are especially vulnerable to the effects of depression and isolation on their physical and mental health. Resources like adult day care can help keep seniors social and engaged, especially if they live alone or far away from their family and loved ones. 

8. Be a Lifelong Learner

According to the Harvard Business Review, not only is lifelong learning (a commitment to learning new skills and acquiring knowledge at any age) good for your health, it is also good for your social life. From learning a new language to playing an instrument, embracing new challenges can help offset some of the effects of agerelated cognitive decline, reduce stress, and widen your social circle. 

Changes in health and immune function are a normal part of the aging process, but taking a proactive approach to your physical, mental and emotional health can have a significant impact on senior health and well-being.

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For more information about SALMON Health and Retirement’s services and choices for senior living, contact us today.