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Why Do Older Adults Have Weaker Immune Systems?

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What Causes Immunity in Elderly People to Weaken?

A robust immune system can protect against illness. However, older adults are more prone to various issues such as infections due to weakened immune systems. Continue reading to learn what causes seniors to have weak immune systems and what can be done to address each issue.

Health Conditions

Seniors living with conditions such as cancer, kidney disease, and diabetes are at higher risk for poor immune functioning, making them more susceptible to health problems. Encourage your elderly loved one to adopt healthy lifestyle choices that can boost his or her immune system and lead to a better quality of life. For instance, eating healthy and staying physically active can reduce the risk of health conditions that damage the immune system, such as diabetes. As a result, your loved one can increase longevity and boost his or her overall wellbeing.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of homecare Scottsdale, AZ, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Aging

With age, the immune system has difficulty distinguishing foreign antigens, putting seniors at higher risk for autoimmune disorders. This is because the T cells take longer to respond to the antigens, and a senior’s body produces smaller amounts of complement proteins. When this happens, the immune system has difficulty responding to bacterial infections, increasing the risk of colds, flu, and pneumonia. Although the body continues to produce enough antibodies to respond to antigens, aging prevents the antibodies from attaching to the substances. 

There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to address if their families opt for professional at-home care. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Medications

Many seniors take multiple medications for chronic conditions, and the prescriptions can cause their immune systems to weaken. Even though most medicines are prescribed to treat pain, boost mental health, or alleviate symptoms associated with conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, and arthritis, the side effects of the drugs could weaken the immune system, putting seniors in danger of developing resistance to certain bacteria and increasing the odds of getting sick. If your loved one’s medications are affecting his or her immune system, speak with his or her primary care physician about alternative treatment options.

Isolation

When older adults are lonely, they tend to experience higher anxiety levels and increased production of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol impairs T cells and prevents them from fighting infections. Loneliness can also increase oxidative stress, causing more damage to the body due to free radicals. You can enhance your loved one’s mood by encouraging him or her to interact with others, whether he or she attends family gatherings, joins the local gym, volunteers in the community, or hosts game nights and activities for friends. Try to connect with your loved one as often as possible, even if you only stop by his or her house for a quick visit or go on a weekly outing together. It may help if you also consider using in-home respite care services to provide your parent with companionship.

For families living in Scottsdale, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home. Trust Home Care Assistance to provide high-quality compassionate, professional home care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (480) 771-2710.

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