The ‘Better at Home report’ from the Live In Care Hub states that carers adapt quickly and easily to the needs of an elderly patient and can spot early on when someone might be unwell. Live in carers are proactive in helping a patient build a strong immune system to fight illnesses and infections. Here are just a few strategies to try with your elderly patient.
Preventative healthcare is about encouraging a patient to stay healthy and active, and to take the advice of their doctor or nurse. For example, taking part in the annual flu jab campaign reduced the likelihood of infection by 60%. For older people, shaking off the effects of debilitating flu compromises their immune system even more.
Sleep & rest
As we get older, restful sleep becomes more important. Sleep and rest during the day not only helps improve brain function, concentration and memory but also keeps the immune system in great shape. As well as a relaxing bedtime routine, when a patient feels tired, they should be encouraged to rest. Aiming for seven to eight hours sleep a night is the ideal. Prolonged periods of sleepless nights or poor sleep patterns will affect the immune system.
The temptation as we age is to do less in terms of physical activity. There are times when this is unavoidable but no matter how old someone is, remaining physically active with appropriate exercise is essential for good health. The immune system is complex but what we do know is that someone who remains active has a stronger immunity and is more able to fight off infections and illness. From regular yoga sessions to walks in the park, remaining active is simply essential.
A balanced diet
Another way to boost the immune system is to eat healthily and enjoy a nutrient-rich diet. This includes a diet that has a variety of protein foods, vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains and fat-free dairy foods. Foods rich in vitamin A (carrots, broccoli, spinach), vitamin C (strawberries, citrus foods), vitamin E (hazelnuts, peanut butter) and zinc in particular help to strengthen the immune system. As a carer, including a patient in making choices about what they eat is important and whilst the occasional treat is no bad thing, a balanced, healthy diet is essential for a healthy immune system.
Adequate hydration plays a key role in boosting immune function. Water helps the body to absorb nutrients and minerals and flush out waste. As we get older, we can lose our sense of thirst which is why it is important to encourage regularly drinking throughout the day.
We rely on our immune system to fend off infection and illness. Should we become ill, it is the system that will fight the battle on our behalf. Keeping it healthy is therefore essential and for carers, this means not only looking after your own immune system but that of your patient too.