With age, the immune system becomes less capable of fighting off illness, meaning the elderly are more prone to catching colds or the flu. However, this doesn’t mean your senior loved one has to come down with something. Here are six things that can help the elderly boost immunity.
Zinc is an immune system booster that also fights infection. Studies show ingesting zinc reduces the number of days a person has a cold. Zinc can be taken as a supplement or found in foods such as beans, turkey, oysters, spinach, and pumpkin seeds.
Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional elderly home care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, which is primarily found in citrus fruit, is a cold season staple. However, taking it regularly throughout the year can fortify a senior’s immune system for when cold and flu season hits. Although leafy greens and citrus are full of vitamin C, the best way to get a good dose is through a supplement.
Japanese mushrooms such as shitake, maitake, and oyster mushrooms are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are the body’s first line of defense in keeping cells healthy, so they’re important to include in your loved one’s diet. These mushrooms can also help with the production of immune cells, which help the body ward off potential illnesses. Although uncommon in North America, medicinal mushrooms and medicines made from extracts are often prescribed in Asia for those recovering from cancer treatments.
Preparing nutritious meals is often an arduous task for family members. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Mississauga, ON, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kombucha tea. These bacteria reduce levels of harmful germs and increase overall health. A 2015 study by Dr. Qiukui Hao found daily probiotic consumption reduced a person’s risk of getting respiratory infections by 47 percent. Probiotics such as yogurt have also been shown to reduce gastrointestinal infections. It’s suspected probiotics reduce the body’s response to germs, so colds last fewer days and cold symptoms are less severe. Check the yogurt section at the local store for a wide array of probiotic smoothies.
Some studies suggest catching a cold is linked to a vitamin D deficiency, a possible explanation for why cold and flu season occurs during the time of year with the shortest periods of daily sunlight. Since getting enough sunlight during the winter is nearly impossible in many locations, pick up a supplement for your loved one and encourage him or her to eat more fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, and tuna, as well as certain mushrooms and fortified milk.
6. Herbs & Spices
Several herbs and spices have great immune-boosting properties, and some have been linked to preventing serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease. One spice to include in your loved one’s diet is turmeric. In addition to warding off illness, it can help seniors feel better because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric can also ease arthritis symptoms and slow the progress of Alzheimer’s. Another great spice to include is garlic, which has antimicrobial and cancer-fighting properties.
Echinacea, sage, ginger, and ginseng are all well-known immunity boosters that fight viruses. Any of these herbs can be taken in tea or supplement form. Find a tea with one or more of these herbs that your loved one likes and serve a cup each evening a few hours before bed. If ginger isn’t too potent for your loved one’s taste buds, put a few small pieces of raw ginger in the tea.
From eating nutritious meals to getting plenty of exercise, seniors may need help with several activities. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of elder care. Mississauga Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (519) 590-2792.