People who are at or nearing senior age are generally more susceptible to a number of different health conditions, and a primary reason for this is diminished immune system function. It’s a simple reality that most immune systems don’t function as well for older people as they do during younger years, which can lead to several potential risks seniors and their caregivers must keep in mind.
At Cozy Retire, our assisted living facility provides numerous areas of senior care, from 24-hour on-site assistance to memory care and several other high-quality medical services. Our medical staff is well aware of the potential for diminished immune system function – here are some tips they’ll often offer our residents dealing with these issues, tips that can be applied to any caregiver or senior concerned their immune system is beginning to lose function.
One of the primary tools the body uses to renew its energy and regenerate several important areas, including the immune system, is sleep. For people who are at higher risk of inflammation, infection or even simple fatigue, all areas that impact the immune system, sleep is even more important than usual – and seniors are often among this group.
Older adults should be trying for eight hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, many seniors suffer from insomnia; luckily, there are sleep disorder specialists and doctors who can assist with this.
This is vital at all ages, but even more so for those entering senior years. The immune system needs vitamins, minerals and protein to support itself, and while supplements can assist with certain areas here, the best way to obtain more of these is to consume them as part of the diet. Modern diet options like the DASH diet or the Mediterranean diet are generally great for seniors looking to boost immune function.
Stress can cause several health-related issues, including compromising the immune system by decreasing the white blood cells that help the body fight off infections. Seniors can reduce stress through activities like yoga, walking, swimming, stretching, meditation or journaling. There are also medications that can assist here.
Exercise is a great way to keep the immune system functioning well. At least 30 minutes of basic aerobic exercise several days a week can have a profound effect on a senior’s ability to fight off illness, while too much sitting or lack of movement increases the risk of several major health conditions.
Along with exercise comes hydration, which should be carefully tracked throughout the day. Water helps the body absorb vitamins and minerals needed by the immune system. Seniors should drink at least half their body weight in ounces per day – so if they weigh 160 pounds, they should drink roughly 80 ounces of water every day. In addition, foods like leafy greens, berries and melon all have high water quantities.
For more on supplementing immune system function for seniors, or to learn about any of our retirement home services, speak to the staff at Cozy Retire today.