It comes down to how strong their immunity is. Immunity remains to be the first and last line of defences against prevention as well as recovering. The Immune system just like any other systems in the body generally slows in case of senior citizens. This is the natural course of life. However, we can follow certain measures to harness their immune system and make sure it’s not compromised in any way.
1. Firstly, never overfeed them thinking that this will boost immunity. Appetite generally reduces as we age, so let them have how much ever they are comfortable with. Its okay as long as they do not see a drop in their energy levels. Infact senior citizens are more likely to be in tune with their appetite and circadian rhythms. The habit of early dinner will greatly benefit their digestive health as well as immunity.
2. Make sure their haemoglobin count is top notch because low haemoglobin levels can also suppress immunity.
3. Avoid intake of any sugar, as sugar upsets the immune system almost immediately.
4. Add common immunity boosting foods in their meals and dishes like – turmeric, ginger, garlic, cumin, black pepper, ghee / coconut oil (in calculated quantities), wheatgrass/ moringa, pumpkin seeds, tulsi leaves.
5. It’s a good idea to regularly give them foods that boost lung health and clean out the respiratory. E.g.: oregano, carrots, thyme, fenugreek, pineapple
6. Expose them to natural light, 10-15 mins early morning in the sun. A regular exposure to sunlight will boost Vitamin D production and in turn immunity.
7. Make sure their Vitamin D levels are within normal limits. An easy lung health boosting tea:
● 1 tbsp methi seeds
● 10g fresh tulsi leaves or 1 tbsp dried tulsi.
● 2 pods cardamom/elaichi (green)
● 1 to 2 tsp saunf/fennel seeds
● Boil all of the above in 1 litre of water
● Reduce it to 500 ml of water
● Strain and sip warm
8. A good quality sleep is crucial for them. Even though elderly people tend to sleep for a lesser number of hours, it’s necessary for them to sleep deep even in those little hours they get to sleep. Practices like Left nostril breathing, Om chanting, warm bath – helps put them to sleep.
1. They mustn’t step outside their homes at any cost. This is especially for individuals above the age of 60-65 years. Its necessary for them to follow home quarantine rules to the T. Even for their regular medicines, etc they must take the help of their family member or have an authorised person drop it at their place. Its best to have enough stock of medicines and first aid at home.
2. For anyone entering the home from outside (maybe to buy essentials), it’s necessary to first wash hands, dip your clothes in hot water, bathe and then meet or interact with elderly people. Avoid entering their room directly.
3. Try and maintain a safe distance of 6 feet with them.
4. Sanitize commonly touched objects regularly like remote controls, switch boards, door knobs and handles, spectacles.
5. Avoid interactions between a sick person and them within a family.
How can they remain active and healthy (physically and mentally) while indoors
– Give them a well-balanced and well-rounded diet. When it comes to nutrition, they are more attuned to traditional diets, which is ideally the most nutritious provided it’s cooked the right way.
– Basic foods like khichdi with a little bit of ghee, dal rice, khadi rice, rice sambar
– Soups like tomato soup, pumpkin soup, mushroom , and green peas soups are easier for them to consume and digest.
– If there is a balcony or terrace, encourage them to soak some morning sunlight.
– Get them engaged in senior citizen yoga and there are various videos and websites for that.
– Involve them in basic and non-strenuous activities like chopping and peeling vegetables (if they can)
– Massage is a great idea to activate circulation of blood as well as lymph because movement is limited around this time.
– Apart from this – Make sure they have minimum exposure to news and social media, esp. channels and WhatsApp that spread fake and incorrect information. Instead:
1. Encourage them to spend time with their grandchildren.
2. Try and engage in conversations with them. Make sure you lend them an ear
3. Involve them into prayers, meditation, reading
4. Unsubscribe from news and newsletters that induce fears. It’s the root cause of stress. While we may have social media channels and chatting groups to vent out and express our stress, please understand that most of them do not.
5. Involve them into watching stand-up comedy, music and movies they like.
6. Teach them breathing exercises that they can do while at home. This will help quell their anxiety, boost lung health, and the immune system as it maintains a positive frame of mind.
4-7-8 breathing technique steps:
1. Inhale for 4 seconds through both nostrils.
2. Hold/Retain your breath for 7 seconds
3. Exhale for about 8 seconds.
4. To reap more benefits: Exhale in a bit of a different way. Do not exhale with nostrils. Generate a “whoosh”; sound like a whoosh.
5. Now how do you generate a whoosh sound? You have to purse your lips tight but you do it counting to 8 seconds. So, it’s a slow exhale with your lips pursed like a whoosh action.
6. You do this for 6 times to begin with and then slowly build up to 8 and then 10 rounds.
This trains your parasympathetic nervous system, it calms down your nervous system, and it gets your breath in control. It distributes oxygen equally to all those billions of cells that you have in the human body.