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Catching the flu or common cold can lead to bigger health complications in seniors. Older adults should pay particular attention to lifestyle choices, and maintain regular flu shots, vaccinations and personal hygiene during winter months to stay healthy and reduce the risk of colds, flu, pneumonia, bronchitis, and other secondary conditions that can arise from the lingering infections. 

The number one way to stay healthy and fend off the flu is by staying active and nourished. Not only do these two things support physical well-being, but they encourage social and mental well-being, as well — important factors when it comes to being motivated to exercise and eat healthy!

Healthy eating and hydration for a strong immune system

Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods is easy at Verve Senior Living through our Living Loving Local and Superfoods programs. Highlighting fresh, seasonal foods that support what the body needs during this particular season, and ensuring menus are colourful and featuring a variety of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and protein is crucial for everyone, but especially older adults. When you’re nourished and hydrated, your immune system is stronger and better able to combat bugs. 

Since it’s the holidays and treats and meals that are out of the norm tend to be a part of the seasonal festivities, here are a few tips to keep eating healthy and protect your immune system:

  • Don’t arrive hungry to a party! Pre-fueling your body with healthy choices—and then paying attention to the “full” feeling—will help in not overdoing it on the treats.
  • Plan your plate. Is it a delicious buffet, all you can dream of appies, or holiday baking galore? Plan for at least half of your plate to be healthy options, and then add one or two of the treats or less healthy options at the end.
  • Slow down and savour your food. Not only will this help you be in the moment, but it’ll help your digestion and from over-eating. Pay attention to your body! Stop eating when you’re full.
  • Above all, stay hydrated! Especially if you’re engaging in a glass of bubbles to toast the festivities.

Ways to be active despite the windchill

When it’s darker longer, colder, and other routine-infringing factors, it can feel harder to be motivated to exercise. But more than ever, it’s important to maintain physical activity during winter months to strengthen immunity.

The following are our tips to bundle up and be safe out there while continuing to be an active adult:

  • Go when it’s light out and take the windchill into account when planning what to wear and where to go.
  • Invest in shoe grippers, walking sticks, and whatever else you need to prevent slips and falls on the ice.
  • Prevent heat loss by wearing hats, layers, wool or synthetic socks, and waterproof footwear.
  • Walk indoors if you have to! Lap the mall, join a gym for the winter months, or try a new fitness class.
  • Do light exercises and stretching while watching your favourite TV show.

Additional tips for staying healthy and fighting the flu

Be Prepared: Group your errands and plan ahead so you don’t get caught out in the cold. Prep your Emergency kit.

If you’ve gone out for a walk, immediately change out of cold and wet clothes, as this can increase your chances of losing precious body heat and risk hypothermia in extreme cases.

Combat dry and itchy skin through a diligent skincare routine. Moisturize with a skin barrier repair moisturizer like CeraVe regularly; keep finger- and toenails trimmed and smooth to avoid skin scrapes and scratching; take oatmeal baths to soothe skin; wear loose clothing made of non-scratchy fabrics.

Maintain a positive attitude! So what if it didn’t all work out as planned today. Going with the flow is half the battle for positive mental health.

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