A senior man blowing his nose with a tissue because of a cold

As we age, our immune systems naturally get weaker. Seniors are more susceptible to infection from viruses like the flu, and require more time and attention paid to their daily activities like diet and exercise to increase their health and wellness.

It’s vital to understand how seniors can strengthen their immune system to reduce their risk of developing serious health complications and increase their chances of living a longer, healthier, and happier life.

Quit Smoking

Cigarettes have several negative effects, including an increased risk of developing heart and lung cancer. Smoking cigarettes has been linked to lower energy levels and higher rates of physical disability.

Increased macronutrient turnover can negatively impact a person’s overall health. Smoking has been shown to lower vitamin levels in adults who would otherwise be healthy. This turnover means that smoking cigarettes can negate even a nutrient-rich diet. 

In seniors, smoking poses a risk because it leads to loss of bone density and a reduction of muscle strength. Quitting smoking can increase the length and quality of a senior’s life by boosting their immune system’s ability to absorb micronutrients and reducing the impact on their lung and cardiovascular health.

Get Exercise

Keeping a moderate exercise regimen and a good fitness level can help seniors remain healthy for years to come. Exercise helps with cardiovascular health and helps keep joints and muscles strong. Seniors should consider the following exercise goals:

  • 150 minutes per week of moderate activity like walking
  • 2 days per week of muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Incorporating activities to improve balance

Following an exercise routine or weekly schedule can help maintain motivation and keep a person on track to meet their goals, whether to be more flexible and have better balance or become stronger.

A class of green juice next to a napkin that reads "boost your immune system"

Eat a Nutrient-Rich Diet

Getting the right vitamins and nutrients is vital to maintaining a healthy immune system, especially for seniors. Undernutrition can lead to a decreased immune response and difficulty fighting off viruses and illnesses.

Some vital nutrients for seniors include:

  • Vitamin B12: helps create red blood cells and promotes nerve function. Foods like chicken, fish, eggs, and milk are rich in Vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin C: helps promote immune health and aid tissue repair and collagen generation. Fruits and vegetables are rich in Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin D: helps fight conditions like heart disease and infectious diseases while boosting mood. Fish, milk, eggs, yogurt, and orange juice are rich in Vitamin D.
  • Omega-3 Fats: omega-3s are linked with increased brain function and decreased risk of developing age-related eye diseases. Fatty fish, walnuts, and chia seeds are high in omega-3s.

A great way to incorporate these vitamin-rich foods into a senior’s diet is by planning out meals on a weekly basis and measuring out portions to ensure proper nutrition.

Stay Hydrated

Water is crucial for maintaining good health. Proper hydration regulates your electrolytes, helps with digestion, and makes nutrient transport easier. Dehydration can lead to increased heart rate, low blood pressure, and dry or cracked skin which can be painful. 

The daily water intake recommendation for adult men is 15.5 cups of fluids and the recommended fluid intake for adult women is 11.5 cups.

Keep Up with Your Vaccines

There are two flu vaccines developed specifically for seniors: fluzone high dose and fluad quadrivalent. Ensuring you’re up to date on your vaccines is vital to protecting your immune system from the flu. Older adults are at a higher risk of hospitalization due to the flu. Having a flu shot reduces a senior’s risk of hospitalization by up to 60%. 

Reduce Stress

Stress increases your body’s production of a hormone called cortisol, which regulates your body’s response to stress. Cortisol can lower the body’s immune response ability by limiting non-essential functions, including the immune system.

Some ways to reduce stress include:

  • Daily meditation and mindfulness
  • Getting exercise every day
  • Sleeping at least 8 hours a night

Coping with stress can be difficult but is essential to maintaining a strong immune system, especially in seniors.

Experience the Villages Difference

The team at The Villages of Farragut can provide seniors with the help they need to get vital nutrients, daily exercise, and take their health seriously. By dedicating time and resources to building a wellness plan and daily routine, seniors can benefit from the structure and community The Villages of Farragut provides. 

Interested in learning more about life at The Villages of Farragut? Get in touch with our team to schedule a tour.