Our immune systems become compromised as we age. Although being in the senior population makes you more susceptible to viruses, proper planning and precautions may prevent you from developing a communicable disease. The best way to protect yourself from colds, flu, COVID-19, and other viruses, is to adopt healthy habits at home. The following tips will help you stay safe and healthy.

Practice Hand Hygiene

Frequent hand washing, especially before eating or touching your face, can prevent the spread of communicable diseases like colds and stomach viruses. Washing hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds after touching door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, or using the bathroom is ideal. It’s also recommended that everyone (young and old) should wash their hands immediately after returning home from somewhere else. This minimizes the chances of spreading germs and protects seniors from sickness.

It’s best to use liquid hand soap when cleaning your hands, as bar soap harbors germs from other people. If hand soap and water are unavailable, use hand sanitizer. Make sure it has at least 60% alcohol and rub the sanitizer all over your hands until they are dry (about 20 seconds). Since frequent hand washing and sanitizing can dry out the skin, keep a cream or lotion nearby to restore moisture.

Sanitize Surfaces Regularly

Common viruses can live on surfaces for up to a week. Cold and flu viruses are most effective in the first 24 to 48 hours on hard surfaces, and the coronavirus can live on these surfaces from a few hours to a few days. To protect seniors from sickness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends disinfecting high-touch areas, including doorknobs, light switches, faucets, countertops, and phones, on a daily basis, especially if someone in the household is sick. Cleaning products with at least 70% alcohol are recommended.


One of the best tips for staying healthy as a senior is to incorporate exercise into your daily routine. A 2019 research review uncovered the power of exercise — exercise that is moderate in intensity can stimulate cellular immunity by increasing the circulation of immune cells in the body. What does this mean? If you regularly take a brisk 20-minute walk, swim laps, or do chair yoga, your body has more time to prepare for a future infection by detecting it earlier.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is key to protecting seniors from viruses. During sleep, the body is hard at work repairing damaged cells and developing immunity. Your brain health, circulatory system, metabolism, and ability to fight diseases heavily weigh on adequate sleep. According to the National Institute on Aging, the average older adult should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night.

Eat Right

Seniors looking to boost their immune systems should pay particular attention to their dietary habits. The immune system is supported by a healthy diet, rich in numerous vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, D, C, zinc, and calcium. The general rule of thumb is to eat the rainbow! If you have a varied diet consisting of proteins, fruit, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and seeds, you are less likely to experience nutrition gaps. Healthy eating can taste great, too, when prepared by experienced and knowledgeable dieticians or chefs.

Manage Stress

In response to stress, the body produces a hormone called cortisol. While it’s necessary for helping the body deal with stressful situations, cortisol limits certain bodily functions, including the immune system. When a person is chronically stressed, their immune system cannot adequately fight infections. So another way to boost your immune system is to find ways to manage your stress. This could be as simple as making time for things you enjoy (such as reading) or taking up new routines (such as morning meditations).

Minimize Contact With Sick People

During cold and flu season, it’s best to avoid close contact with people who display symptoms of an infection or have been recently exposed to a virus. Many bacterial and viral illnesses can be infectious up to three to four days before people start showing symptoms. 

If you must go out in public, you should maintain at least six feet of distance, wear a face mask, and wash their hands immediately after returning home. If you have visitors at your place of residence, ask guests to wash their hands upon entering and practice social distancing. Another way to protect yourself from sickness is to disinfect any objects and surfaces touched after visitors leave.

Practice Healthy Habits at Wesley Enhanced Living

The months leading up to the cold and flu season are perfect for focusing on developing and maintaining healthy habits. By taking precautions and forming healthy habits now, you can effectively decrease your chances of catching a virus.

At Wesley Enhanced Living, our team of highly trained professionals believes seniors can do anything with determination, and they support seniors in reaching their health goals. Discover the benefits of living in a community and see why Wesley Enhanced Living may be right for you and your loved one! Get in touch with our team today to learn more about skilled nursing and independent living options in Delaware County, PA, and the surrounding areas.

Wesley Enhanced Living provides high-quality senior retirement communities for you or your loved ones. Contact one of our Philadelphia-area locations and find out why our seniors love where they live. Our staff is happy to discuss your elder’s needs or your own and inform you of our range of services. Virtual tours are now available. Call us today for more information.