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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on October 28th, 2014

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5 Ways Older Adults Can Strengthen Their Immune Systems

assisted living | Health Tips for Senior Citizens | immune system | Aging & Caregiving

50590Our immune systems protect us from a number of harmful substances, including cancer cells, toxins, and viruses. As we age, however, our immune systems are no longer able to function at peak capacity.

Help give your aging loved one’s immune system a beneficial boost through these five key preventative measures.

1. Vaccines

Flu and pneumonia vaccines offer an invaluable line of defense against illnesses that affect older seniors. Follow the vaccine guidelines as recommended by your primary care physician in order to protect your aging loved one from getting sick.

2. Exercise

The many benefits of exercise cannot be overstated, including the role physical activity plays in bolstering your immune system. Even a daily walk can stimulate the production of antibodies and white blood cells which ward off bacteria and viruses while fighting everything from cancer to heart disease.

Exercise can also help strengthen frail bodies and lower the occurrence of trips and falls. While a weak immune system can interfere with the healing process, incorporating weight-bearing exercises into senior routines can head off this troubling cycle.

3. Eat Well

You probably already encourage your loved one to eat right. Here’s another reason to support healthy dietary choices: a diet rich in plant-based foods and low in saturated fat is a simple way to support the immune system. 

Even minor nutritional deficiencies can alter a senior's immune response while modest quantities of micronutrients, such as selenium, zinc, copper, iron, folic acid and vitamins A, C, E and B6, can pack powerful punch.

4. Don’t Smoke

Simply put: smoking weakens the immune system and puts your aging loved one at increased risk for multiple health threats.  In fact, some research indicates that smoking not only interferes with the body’s production of disease fighting antibodies, but may also cause the immune system to attack the lungs, leading to increased respiratory and pulmonary issues. 

5. Limit Alcohol Intake

While red wine consumption has been shown to have certain health benefits, moderation is key. A health care provider can let you know how much is too much when it comes to protecting your loved one’s immune health.

Key Takeaways

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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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