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How to Keep Your Body’s Immune System Strong After Age 65

You’ve likely noticed that as you get older, you don’t bounce back from illnesses and injuries like you used to. This is because your immunity is not what it once was. Consider these tips on how to keep your body’s immune system strong after age 65. You can enlist the help of your caregiver, home health nurse or doctor as you take on these healthy habits.

A Balanced Diet

Your diet is one of the most important factors in your health. After all, most people eat several times a day, so it makes sense that this habit would have a major impact on immunity. If you eat the right foods, your immune system can thrive, but eating too many of the wrong foods can damage it over time—making you more likely to get sick.

That’s why you should focus on eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible to keep your body’s immune system strong after age 65. More specifically, seniors should eat at least four cups of produce per day to get important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and folate. If you get enough of these vitamins and minerals, you have a better chance of preventing common health issues like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and cancer.

Other foods that will boost your immunity as you age include poultry, fish, lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, and eggs. You should also keep your diet low in saturated fats, sodium and added sugar.

Stay Up to Date on Vaccinations

We hear all about the importance of vaccinating children, but we don’t always hear about why seniors also need to be updated on vaccinations. This should be part of your regular doctor visits, so ask your doctor or nurse if you’re concerned that you might have missed some vaccinations over the years.

The exact vaccinations you need might vary depending on your current health, lifestyle and travel habits. But in general, the CDC recommends that all adults get a flu shot every year, while the shingles vaccine is helpful for anyone age 50 and older. You might also need a shot for pertussis or tetanus and diphtheria to keep your body’s immune system strong after age 65.

The CDC lists additional information you need for vaccinations as you age. If you have any questions about the vaccinations you need or want to look at your shot record, contact your doctor.

Get Enough Sleep

You know sleep is important, but did you know that not getting enough can run down your immune system? It’s especially apparent as you get older. If you get less than seven hours of sleep per night, your chance of catching a cold is higher than usual, and that’s just one example of how sleep can affect your immune system.

This is because when you’re sleep deprived, your body slows down the production of a certain type of white blood cells. These cells have the ability to target specific types of bacteria, as well as cancer cells.

Additionally, if you go without proper sleep for too long, you have a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other health problems. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, let your doctor or home health care nurse know so you can start reaping the benefits of sufficient sleep soon, ensuring you keep your body’s immune system strong after age 65.

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Stay Active

Will exercise improve your immune system? The answer is yes. Working out about five times per week can improve the circulation of the cells in the body that fight off bacteria, making you less likely to get sick.

Plus, regular exercise can help you stay at a healthy weight, which is often a struggle as people get older. This alone can boost your immune system and make you less likely to suffer from the health problems that come with being overweight or obese.

If you’re wondering which workouts to start with to keep your body’s immune system strong after age 65, consider walking or swimming first. These are gentle on your joints but still, provide a great workout. There are even some easy yoga poses you can try. If you’re already active and have cleared it with your doctor, you can jog, ride a bike or do aerobics to stay active and healthy.

Avoid or Limit Cigarettes and Alcohol

People who smoke are at a disadvantage when it comes to immunity, because cigarettes destroy antibodies and antioxidants while also causing inflammation in the lungs. In general, smokers take longer to heal after an illness, injury or surgery, so it should come as no surprise that smoking hurts your immune system.

Therefore, if you want to boost your immunity, stop smoking now. Additionally, avoid drinking too much alcohol. A glass of red wine several days a week or even every day may be beneficial for your body, but if that glass turns into a bottle most nights, you’ll lose those benefits. Plus, you’ll reduce the effectiveness of your white blood cells, meaning you’ll get sick more often than you once did.

If you’re having trouble regulating habits like cigarettes or alcohol, let your doctor know so you can get help. And if you think it’s time to get assistance with everyday tasks in order to stay as healthy and safe as possible, contact us to learn your options.

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