Maintaining a healthy immune system is not easy, but it is crucial for everyone. However, for older adults it is critical to continuing to enjoy as much independence in life as possible. Summertime is a wonderful time to explore ways to boost your immune system. At Heritage Hills memory care living in Oceanside, we care about our residents staying healthy and maintaining strong immune systems. Here are some relevant and timely tips we’ve found that are perfect for older adults and boosting your immune systems:
1.) Eat a Nutritious Diet
The essential nutrients your body needs come from a diet that consists primarily of fruit, vegetables, and lean meats, and is reduced in sugars and fats. Eating a diet that is unbalanced or doesn’t meet your nutritional needs leads to a weakened immune system. However, other issues resulting from a poor diet can lead to diabetes, weakened muscle mass, and heart issues. Malnutrition increases the risk for illness, so it is as important to meet your dietary needs on a daily basis as it is to take any required medications you may need.
On the other hand, a balanced diet includes nutrients and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, selenium and zinc. All menus at Heritage Hills are established by a registered dietician for the highest quality and to meet the needs of each individual resident. To view a sample menu, click here.
2.) Manage Your Stress Levels
It is almost impossible to avoid all stress, and a little stress is not necessarily an awful thing. A minor amount of stress motivates us to action. However, high levels of stress or chronic stress can result in major negative effects on your body like lowering your immune system and its response. When under stress, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol helps the body deal with stress in normal amounts, but when more is produced it limits some bodily functions like the immune system which can result in infection or other illness.
Knowing these possibilities makes it clear you should look for ways to relieve your stress levels. Some of these can be finding time for things you enjoy like gardening or reading, walking or crafts. The design of memory care living in Oceanside includes a Therapy Garden and other amenities for our patients’ relaxation and enjoyment.
3.) Keep Your Body Moving
For older adults, continuing to move your body is crucial. Your muscles and joints are more apt to become stiff and harder to move the longer you take between times of movement. The longer you remain stagnant, the more you lose your level of flexibility. Your muscles become tight and your joints stiff.
However, exercise increases your blood circulation and has an anti-inflammatory effect as well. The Center of Disease Control recommends at least 2 ½ hours of moderate exercise weekly and muscle-building exercises twice each week. Yet, if you have not been active lately, build up slowly to progress your activity over time. Our caregivers understand the need for activity and make sure there are ample opportunities for all levels of abilities of their residents.
Heritage Hills posts a monthly calendar of all the events available for residents to choose from in order to stay active, so there are many to choose from that fit your needs.
4.) Spend Time Outdoors
Many of the activities that can keep your body moving can be outdoors to enjoy nature. There is great healing power in the outdoors, and you should take advantage of opportunities to enjoy time there. One of the many benefits of being in nature is that it reduces stress. Studies done by Ontario National Parks show that stress is relieved within minutes of being outside. This was indicated by reduction of muscle tension and blood pressure, as well as increased brain activity.
Having both physical and mental boosts to health so quickly from one source allows you to easily maintain the feelings nature provides. Nature also boosts endorphin levels and dopamine production, increasing happiness. Moderate sun exposure is also important to good health due to the need for vitamin D to strengthen the immune system and prevent inflammation and disease. Research also shows vitamin D fights respiratory infections.
5.) Get Rest
As the body ages, it is even more critical to get plenty of sleep every night. The goal to maintain a healthy immune system is to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep can improve brain function, concentration and memory. The amount of sleep you get and the quality of that sleep becomes even more important with age since sleep deprivation can cause major issues, especially reducing the effectiveness of the immune system. There are tricks to improving the quality of your sleep since that is as important as the amount of time. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool, and that you maintain as regular of a routine as possible.
Additionally, limit your alcohol intake and avoid caffeine later in the day since both of these can interfere with sleep quality. Also, even though you may be tired during the day, limit naps to about 45 minutes so they don’t keep you from falling asleep at night. Your body does much of its healing during the extended nighttime sleep hours, so you don’t want to shortchange those hours for the shorter ones during the day.
Staying Healthy with Memory Care Living in Oceanside
Each of these tips can help you maintain or improve your immune system for a better quality of and quite possibly longer life. Remember to eat well, keep your stress minimal, stay active, spend time outdoors, and don’t forget to get plenty of rest! All of these tips can help you keep your immune system in good shape. If you are in the market for an assisted-living community that can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle in its beautiful surroundings, reach out to our professionals at Heritage Hills to schedule a tour.