Staying Well While Staying Home: Boosting Senior Immunity
As we age, it’s no surprise that our bodies’ function and ability to fight disease and infection weakens. But fear not, there are little ways to help with boosting senior immunity.
There’s more to it than just drinking orange juice to boost vitamin C. Emotional and physical health directly impacts a senior’s immunity, and overall wellbeing.
What characteristics of immunity change in a senior?
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why this process slows with age, but here is the known norm as seniors age.
Not responding to vaccines as adequately. Senior adults produce less “T cells,” which are known as the cells that run the battle front when a new infection occurs. Vaccines work well when new T cells are more apparent.
More apt to getting sick. Not only do the total number of T cells drop, but the way they effectively work together also suffers. They take longer to react, therefore giving invasive germs and diseases the upper hand.
Longer recovery time for injuries, illnesses, and infection. With a lower production level in white blood cells, this makes the time to heal a bit longer.
What can seniors do to help boost immunity?
Get enough sleep at night
Seniors should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Adequate sleep allows for the immune system to produce proteins called cytokines. Cytokines need to be in a good supply in order to quickly fight infections and illnesses. This will affect how long it will take to feel better because the rate of antibodies produced is slower.
Embrace stress relieving techniques and activities
It’s easy for life to get the most of us sometimes. No matter what you have going on, it’s important for us to make time for ourselves in order to unwind and navigate through our thoughts and worries.
Managing stress is important for immunity health, just as it is for our mental and emotional health. Ongoing stress disrupts communication between our hormones and the immune system. Stress sends hormonal signals to the brain that alerts our body to take defensive action, but in turn limits our ability to fight infection.
Some ways to combat stress are through positive thinking, meditation, yoga, reading, journaling, and seeking social support from friends, family, and even a therapist.
Keep up with an exercise routine
Exercise boosts heart, respiratory, muscle, joint, and emotional health, among other things. How does excercise boost immunity?
Regular exercise sessions increase blood and lymph flow as you move, which increases the circulation of immune cells. With these cells becoming more present in the body, the ability to fight off infections strengthens just as much as muscles do.
Eat those oranges, but also other healthy foods in general
Vitamin C is typically the first answer people think of when nutrition is tied to immunity. Citrus fruits like oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, tangerines, clementines, and a lesser mentioned duo – strawberries and kiwis – contain high levels of vitamin C. Why is this vitamin so important? It’s been known to increase the level of white blood cells.
Some veggies that are champions of boosting immunity are red bell peppers, broccoli, and spinach. Red bell peppers actually contain more vitamin C than oranges, as well as the antioxidant beta carotene. Beta carotene combats oxidative stress, which reduces the risk of not just getting sick, but even chronic issues such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Broccoli contains a good amount of vitamin C, A, and E, as well as also being packed with antioxidants. Spinach is right up there with broccoli on the micronutrients it contains, but like broccoli, holds it’s traditional value the less it is cooked. Putting these vegetables in salads or light steaming is the best way for these to retain these nutrients.
Kensington Park Dining and Life Enrichment
Hand in hand with these immunity boosting tips, Kensington Park’s dining services and life enrichment are providing seniors with the lifestyle to promote a healthy mind, body, and spirit, and keep it in check.
Our executive chef and culinary team work daily to prepare meals that not only satisfy our residents’ nutritional needs, but their taste buds as well. We have the ability to also cater to specific dietary needs and provide them with a rich diet full of flavor.
Our life enrichment program activities are crafted by our specialized team of care professionals, to ensure each resident conducts an active, social, and engaging lifestyle within our community. These efforts go hand in hand with the promise that the Kensington community holds strong.
Keeping residents engaged during COVID
With the current environment of the pandemic, we’ve done everything in our power to keep our residents and their families safe by following the CDC guidelines for social distancing.
Because of these uncertain times, our team has gotten creative with how we continue our engagement within the community.
We’ve been very attentive to the weather and try to do as many activities outside as possible. We also ask ourselves, “How do the residents need to be stimulated today?”. It can be trivia and word game kind of day, or maybe a relaxing day with music therapy on the porch with refreshing drinks, and socially distant conversation.
Rather than sharing tables for art therapy and other group activities, we have been using our rolling lunch trays so that everyone has their own mini, socially distanced table. It’s working well for painting, writing, and crosswords and it’s easy to sanitize between uses while also encouraging socialization among residents.
We are committed to staying creative, vigilant, and responsive to changes as we navigate this pandemic together.