Your immune system aids in protecting your body from harmful bacteria, viruses, and other foreign substances that might bring harm to your system. The immune system makes cells and antibodies to destroy these harmful substances, lessening your risk of sickness. However, as we age, our immune system does as well. It starts to slow down as our bodies decline with age and it becomes difficult to avoid illnesses and fight off infections.
Effects of Aging on the Immune System
The immune system starts to slow down as we age into our senior years, making us susceptible to sicknesses such as common colds, flu, etc.
Due to our body slowing down, our healing comes with it as well. You might notice that your wounds don’t heal as fast as before. This is because fewer immune cells in the body aid in the healing process, resulting in slower healing.
Susceptible to Respiratory Issues and Disease
As you age, your lungs are most likely not the same as it was. The lungs can become weaker with age and changes such as mucus production and changes in the immune system can affect it. Respiratory issues and diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer can be harder to fight off naturally.
Impaired Vaccine Response
The immune system produces “T cells” which attack other cells that can cause illnesses. These T cells can remember these harmful cells, making your body fight off sickness easily (and the reason why vaccines work). However, aging affects the production of T cells and makes it difficult for vaccines to take effect. Although, the shingles vaccine is an exception which is the reason why it’s very effective for seniors.
How to Improve Your Immune System
As a senior, you will need to exert extra effort to live healthier and maintain a healthy body. This could be a change in your diet or lifestyle, both of which will benefit you in the long run. Here are some tips to keep your immune system in top shape:
Eat Well-Balanced Meals
Having a healthy diet is important. It aids in strengthening the body and immune system. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants will promote good health. Following a Mediterranean diet can promote healthy weight loss, reduce inflammation, and control your glucose level.
Physical activity can boost your immune system. Exercising improves your quality of sleep and decreases stress, depression, and inflammation. It also decreases your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. A moderate-intensity exercise for 60 minutes or less can do the trick.
Get Enough Sleep
Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can cause health issues like a weakened immune system.
Make sure that your room is quiet and calm.
Turn off the light if that helps you sleep.
Create a bedtime routine and be as consistent as possible.
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and at night
Avoid taking daytime naps that are longer than 45-minutes
Manage Your Stress
When we feel stressed, our body produces cortisol to deal with stressful situations. It limits body functions that aren’t needed for the fight or flight situation and it includes our immune system. That’s why chronic stress is harmful to the body. It lowers our immune system and raises cortisol levels. It’s difficult to avoid stress but it is possible to manage it healthily such as:
Meditation and breathing exercises
Making time for yourself to do the things that you love
Make sure to set some time aside to relax and calm yourself every day.
Quit Smoking and Drinking
Vices like smoking and drinking can cause a variety of health issues such as damaged lung tissue, liver disease, and an increased risk of cancer. Smoking and drinking can also suppress your immune system, leaving your body vulnerable to harmful substances. It won’t be easy but taking steps to quit smoking and drinking will greatly benefit your well-being in the long run. Smoking cessation aids such as nicotine gum or nicotine patches can lessen the craving for cigarettes. Therapy and support groups can also aid in dealing with smoking and drinking addiction.
Let’s Get Healthy!
Ensuring that you are in top shape is important, especially because of the changes that come with aging. Choosing to live healthier and doing what you can to keep yourself strong and protected from sickness and disease can aid in delaying health issues and make you live a longer, and more fruitful life.
If you need assistance with keeping your senior loved one healthy, Unified Pledge offers in-home senior care service that doesn’t only provide high-quality service and care but companionship with their clients as well.
Unified Pledge is a leading provider of in-home senior care solutions in Palm Beach County and Broward County. We offer free, no-obligation in-home consultations, cost estimates, and insurance policy benefit reviews.
Give us a call at 561-800-4581 so we can help you create a custom home care solution for yourself or your loved one.