Submitted by Holly Hall, CDP, CMP, CPASRM, Executive Director, The Village at Mercy Creek
As we age, it’s natural for our immune systems to weaken. That means older adults have to work a little harder to keep their immunity strong. And as we find ourselves in the wake of coronavirus along with colds, flu, and various other respiratory infections, it’s even more important for seniors to do all they can to strengthen their immune system.
The problem is, you might be wondering exactly how to boost your immune system. You know it’s important to wash your hands often, but you probably don’t spend too much time thinking about your immune system unless you’re sick. Here are 5 natural ways for seniors to boost their immune system.
1. Do Your Best to Lower Your Stress Level
We all know the feeling when you’re stressed. You might feel tired, run down, and frustrated. But you might not know that having high levels of stress regularly can hurt your immune system. Excess stress gets in the way of your body’s natural process of fighting infections.
There are plenty of ways to relieve stress in the comfort in your own home, but it may take a bit of experimentation to find what works best for you. Yoga and Tai Chi are great stress relievers. Meditation, reading, doing a puzzle, listening to music, and being outside are a few other examples of ways to reduce stress.
2. Stay Hydrated
You might already know that doctors recommend that you drink at least eight glasses of water a day. But are you keeping up with that advice? People of all ages often have trouble drinking enough water. But once you know the effect hydration has on your immune system, it might give you some extra motivation.
When you’re hydrated, your mucus membranes stay moist. Why does that matter? Staying hydrated helps your mucus membranes stop infections like the flu from taking hold.
3. Get Active
As we naturally age, it can become challenging to stay active, especially in the winter. But regular physical activity helps your body’s immune system get stronger. Exercise helps your body produce more antibodies and T-cells. The more of those cells that are circulating in the body, the harder it is for infections to spread.
One huge benefit of senior living communities is that various exercise options are provided so you don’t need to drive to a gym. If the weather is too bad to go for a walk outside, you can walk inside. And it’s a lot more fun to walk or exercise with friends instead of all by yourself.
4. Be Sure to Get Enough Sleep
Think about the last time you stayed up too late or couldn’t fall asleep. The next day, you felt run down and getting things done was an uphill battle. Well, the same thing happens to your immune system when you don’t get enough sleep.
For a healthy sleep schedule, try and get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Develop a regular bedtime routine and consult your doctor if you consistently have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
5. Aim for a Healthy Diet
No matter what your age, a healthy and balanced diet can help boost your immune system and keep it strong. Eating healthier isn’t difficult. All it takes is adding more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins; and limiting processed foods and added sugar. Remember that a healthy diet doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with small changes until the healthy behaviors become habit.
Senior living communities make it easier to build a strong immune system so you can enjoy life to the fullest.
At the Village at Mercy Creek, they believe joy should exist in every aspect of daily life. Each day is filled with possibilities and good times because that’s how they choose to live and serve within our community. They offer Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Respite Care services designed to meet the specific, often changing needs of their residents. To tour or learn more about the Village at Mercy Creek, located at 1501 Mercy Creek Drive in Normal, call 309-268-1501 or visit www.villageatmercycreek.org