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Boost your immune system to make for a healthier autumn

Over the past couple of years many of us have reduced our levels of activity. We’ve become a little more reclusive, more homebodies. This has especially been the case with seniors. At Carefor we’re seeing the effects of this with our clients with seniors requiring other supports like physiotherapy more frequently.

As we age, we have to make that extra effort to keep our bodies functioning not only to for the sake of our mobility but also our immunity. As autumn arrives, cold and flu season arrives with it, which means extra effort on our behalf to stay healthy. We’ve all become quite good at doing that recently but boosting your immune system is about more than just washing your hands and wearing a mask.

Here are a few of the ways in which you can boost your immune system this autumn:

Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. A well-balanced diet includes a variety of vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy, and a variety of protein foods. Fill your plate with immune-boosting foods packed with vitamins and minerals. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli and cabbage are helpful immune-boosting foods for seniors.

Get plenty of rest. Poor-quality sleep or too little sleep greatly affects your immunity levels. Sleep is important to keep your body functioning properly and so you should be aiming to get at least 7 hours of good-quality sleep every night. If you consistently have trouble falling or staying asleep then you may be suffering with a sleep disorder and should talk to your doctor.

Hydrate! Drink plenty of water to flush out any toxins, help your body absorb nutrients and minerals, and keep yourself hydrated. Aim for 8 to 9 glasses of fluid per day. Keeping a filled water bottle with you to sip on throughout the day can be helpful in ensuring you are consuming enough fluids.

Get vaccinated. Complications from diseases such as the flu, pneumonia, and the coronavirus can be much more serious in older adults. Are you up to date with your vaccinations? If you aren’t sure, check with your doctor. Getting your annual flu shot will give you the best and healthiest start to the winter season.

Fresh air and sunshine! Sunlight is one of the best ways for our bodies to absorb vitamin D, which is vital for proper cognitive function, strong bones, and cardiovascular health. Vitamin D has also been proven to improve your mood and your sleep patterns. Luckily in the fall, the sun isn’t as hot or as strong so it may be easier for seniors to spend time outside. However, sun protection is still important, to lower the risk of skin cancer, so make sure to apply sunscreen to any exposed skin.

Get your body moving. 30 minutes of physical activity a day is recommended to keep your body running in tip top shape. Whatever is within your capabilities is perfectly acceptable, whether that is gentle stretching, a brisk walk, or swimming. You can find plenty of exercise videos specifically for seniors on YouTube, so you can work out from the comfort of your own home.

In Ottawa, Carefor’s new fitness program for people living with Parkinson’s Disease is showing remarkable outcomes. PWR!Moves helps seniors keep the neural pathways in their minds active to slow the deterioration of inactivity on the body and the mind. If you’d like to know more visit our website: carefor.ca/PWRMoves  

In Pembroke, our recreation team at Carefor Civic Complex and Mackay Centre retirement homes are working hard to keep residents active. Winters can be hard for this, so we’re offering winter stays at our  retirement homes to help people get out of the house for the winter, make some friends and keep busy. Find out more at www.carefor.ca/retirement