Colder temperatures combined with more time indoors can increase the spread of illness for people of all ages. These risks are especially prevalent for older adults, who are particularly vulnerable to viruses like the cold and flu. Fortunately, there are several proactive steps seniors can take to ward off seasonal illnesses and strengthen their immune systems, ensuring they stay healthy and resilient all year long.
Make smart food choices.
A balanced and healthy diet helps strengthen the immune system and fight off viruses and infections—and this is true for people of all ages. To help ward off winter illnesses, seniors should focus on adding nutrient-rich foods to their diet such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcoholic beverages, which can weaken your immune system. Finally, don’t forget to drink plenty of water, as staying hydrated can help protect against infection and improve overall health.
At The Oaks at Bartlett, we know that proper nutrition is a key ingredient to healthy, active aging. Our chefs take pride in creating dishes that are flavorful, nutrient-dense, and honor your special dietary requests. Personalized options include:
- Diabetes-friendly meals
- Gluten-free dishes
- Low-sodium meals
- Vegetarian menu options
Get enough sleep.
Research shows that poor sleep habits suppress the immune system. Without quality sleep, our bodies can’t repair and recover on a cellular level. As a general rule, older adults should aim to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep each night. To improve the quality of your sleep and regulate the body’s internal clock, establish a consistent bedtime routine. This may include taking a bath, drinking tea, or reading a book, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.
Wash your hands.
Regular handwashing is a simple but highly effective way to reduce the risk of illness and promote good health for seniors during the winter. Lather your hands for at least 20 seconds and then rinse under warm water to remove germs and bacteria.
Move your body.
Regular physical activity can strengthen the immune system, making it more resilient to infections like the common cold and flu, which tend to peak during the winter months. The Oaks offers a range of indoor activities designed to help seniors stay active and engaged. Options like yoga, dancing, water aerobics, and stretching are available and accessible to all levels of mobility.
Certain wintertime viruses, like the flu, can be particularly severe for seniors, even leading to hospitalizations and complications. Early vaccination provides the best protection against contracting the flu virus and its associated health risks. Talk to your healthcare provider about which vaccines would benefit you or your loved one the most.
Surround yourself with friends.
The long, dark winter months are known to cause increased feelings of loneliness and seasonal depression. Over time, social isolation can negatively affect a senior’s mental health, reducing the immune system’s effectiveness, and making it easier to get sick. During winter, seniors should try to spend quality time with friends and family as an important way to stay more connected, and reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Senior living communities like The Oaks are built on socialization. Our activities calendar is full of fun and engaging indoor activities with numerous opportunities to connect with other like-minded seniors. Join book clubs, craft groups, or card games. Residents can also explore new hobbies or take up an old hobby that they’ve always wanted to try.
A Focus on Health and Wellness All Year Long
Bottom line: Winter does pose certain health risks for seniors, but with awareness and proper planning, it’s possible to reduce your risk for illnesses during the colder months. At The Oaks at Bartlett, we prioritize the well-being of our residents throughout the entire year, providing a safe and nurturing environment where seniors thrive. Consider exploring our community today and schedule your in-person tour.