As you grow older, your immune system gets weaker. When you turn 65, you are more prone to getting the flu and developing its complications, like pneumonia and sepsis (bacterial infection in the blood). If you have lung or heart disease, the flu can make it worse.
The good news is there are simple ways you can prevent seniors catching the flu virus.
Exercise strengthens the immune system. It is also good for strengthening the muscles and bones, which are very important for the elderly. Walking is a very simple exercise that you can do no matter your age. You can also lift some weights, do some simple stretching, learn yoga, practice tai chi and/or do qi gong. These exercises are not only beneficial for your body, but also for your mind, spirit and energy. Be sure to consult your caregiver on the best exercises for you before starting an exercise program.
Wash your hands thoroughly
Frequent hand washing eliminates cold and flu germs. You don’t need an antibacterial soap, as rubbing your hands together for at least 20 seconds is what eliminates the germs. If you can’t wash your hands, be sure to keep a sanitizer handy.
Make disinfecting a habit
Wipe down doorknobs, light switches, kitchen counters and tables. Change your rags and sponges regularly, too, as they are breeding grounds for bacteria and germs.
Sanitize your mobile devices using antibacterial wipes. Most people forget that their cellphones are also breeding grounds for bacteria and germs.
Stay away from crowds and sick people
Being in a crowd, especially in a poorly-ventilated space, increases your chances of catching a cold. Avoid crowds as much as possible.
Drink plenty of liquids
Water, freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juice, and herbal teas are the best ways to keep hydrated. Be sure to check with your caregiver on what juices and teas you can drink, as some can interact with medicines. If you are unsure, stick to plain old H2O. Liquids are used by the body to produce mucus. Mucus expels germs and other bad stuff from the body.
Get the right amount of vitamin C
Check with your doctor on the right amount of vitamin C you should be taking. The best and probably the safest way to get vitamin C is through fruits and vegetables. Aside from vitamin C, you can also get a host of other vitamins and nutrients from these food groups. Eat your five a day for an immune system boost.
Get enough protein
If you are not eating enough protein, you may be lowering your immune response. Try to add healthy protein to your diet, such as eggs, yogurt, fish, beans and nutritional yeast.
Make these seven simple steps a habit every day and you can be sure to protect yourself from getting colds and the flu so you can enjoy more healthy years ahead.
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