As we age it becomes even more important to care for ourselves. Taking good care of your body is crucial and it also helps to prevent illness. Being older than 65 means that something as simple as a flu or a common cold can Lead to complications such as a secondary infection – bronchitis, ear infection, pneumonia or a sinus infection. Respiratory infections can complicate matters, so it is very important to keep your immune system strong and reduce your chances of becoming ill. Here are some tips for a healthier lifestyle for seniors:
1. Become More Active
It does not matter what type of activity you undertake; the main idea is to be active. You can swim, walk, bike or do some yoga or low impact aerobics. You should aim for twenty to thirty minutes of daily exercise and some muscle strengthening activity such as weightlifting. Not only does exercise keep you fit and Healthy generally, it will also help strengthen the bones and joints. Senior women, especially, will want to avoid conditions such as osteoporosis and being active assists with this.
2. Try to Eat Healthy
Your diet should be rich in vegetables and fruit, with lean meats and whole grains. It needs to be balanced to maintain a healthy body. Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables and antioxidants help your cells to stay safe from damage. Try to limit the number of fatty foods and sugar that you consume because this can lead to inflammation and compromise your body’s immune system. Limit your alcohol consumption because this can also compromise your immune system and lead to various diseases.
3. Wash Your Hands Often
When you wash your hands on a regular basis, it can help you to stay in good health. Viruses are able to live on a surfacefor as long as 24 hours. If you touch a surface that has viruses on it, you could become ill if you then touch your face. Hand sanitizer can protect you, but plain soap and water is just as effective. Make it a habit to wash your hands as often as possible.
4. Take Supplements
Supplements help to support your immune system and make it healthy. Check with your doctor to see if they recommend any specific supplements. Ask your doctor if the supplements that you plan to take are safe if you are taking any prescription medications. Some supplements you might consider taking include vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium. Fish oil is another good one to consider. It’s beneficial for improved brain function and joint health.
5. Manage Your Stress
Chronic stress can increase your body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone. Too much of this hormone can cause disruptions to your body’s functions and also compromise your immune system. If you want to reduce stress you will need to get enough sleep, increase your physical activity and have reasonable expectations for yourself. Learn to switch off for a period each day and clear the mind of thoughts and worries.
6. Stay Away from People who are Sick
It is always a good idea to avoid people who are sick. Seniors are generally more prone to contracting illnesses. If you know there is an outbreak of an illness in your area, stay away from the people who are not feeling well and do not go into crowded areas. If you need to go out in public, wear a mask and wash your hands often.
7. Get Enough Sleep
When you get enough sleep, you can reduce your stress levels, and this is also how your body repairs itself. You want to get the right amount of sleep to keep your immune system strong, and this allows your body to fight off viruses too. You want to ensure you are getting enough sleep as you age because it helps with your concentration and memory function. Between seven and nine hours are the best for an older person.
8. Have an Annual Physical
When you have a check up every year it helps to keep you healthy. It can also give you peace of mind. If you have any concerns about your health, speak to your doctor about them. Certain health conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure can exist without being detected for long periods of time. If you have a regular physical, it can help your doctor to discover any serious health conditions early on. Early treatment is the best way to avoid complications in the future.
9. Where Possible, Prevent Infection
It is a good idea to get vaccinations on an annual basis so that it can help you to stay healthy all year round. If you are older than 65 then you should have a conversation with your doctor about a higher dose flu vaccine. Flu viruses change annually so you will want to be vaccinated each year. Consider asking about having a pneumococcal vaccine which can help to protect you against meningitis and pneumonia.
10. Look After Your Eyes
Unfortunately for most people, the eyesight starts to suffer as you age. If you wear prescription glasses, have your prescription checked regularly to ensure optimum results are being maintained. If you don’t wear glasses but feel like you’re struggling to focus, consult with your GP or optometrist as soon as possible before your vision deteriorates further. Avoiding too much screen time (TV, computer screens and gadgets) can also help to extend the quality of life of your eyes. Also, eat foods rich in Vitamin A, such as carrots, as this will help to maintain your vision. Have your eyes screened regularly for conditions such as glaucoma, which can lead to blindness if left untreated.
11. Socialise, Don’t Isolate
People are naturally social creatures, so don’t isolate yourself as you become older. It’s vital to maintain a healthy social life and positive social activity can be beneficial on numerous levels. A lack of social activity can lead to low self-esteem, coping difficulties and an increase in the release of stress hormones. This can then lead to stress-related conditions developing. A good social life will improve your mood and outlook on life, which can also help in maintaining better health. Socialising also helps to keep the mind sharp as you age.
12. Take Care of Your Teeth
Visit the dentist regularly for a check up and don’t put off having issues with your teeth attended to. Not only will you want to take good care of your teeth so they serve you well your entire life, some forms of gum disease can lead to infections developing in other areas of the body if the disease finds its way into the bloodstream. Arresting gum disease before it gets out of hand will ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy and the rest of your body as well.
Although you cannot prevent all illnesses as you age, taking better care of yourself can help you to fight illnesses and strengthen your immune system. The better care you take care of yourself, the healthier you will be and the more you will be able to prevent illness that can mean the difference between life and death as you age.