The immune system is the body’s primary defense against bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing microorganisms. Older adults become increasingly susceptible to such things as they age, sometimes because of weak immunity. But what exactly causes immunity to become weaker in older adults? Here are five possible reasons this may happen.
1. Slower Immune Responses
Over time, the immune system’s normal responses become slower, which increases an older adult’s susceptibility to seasonal illnesses like the flu and autoimmune disorders that cause the body to attack its own tissues. Getting regular vaccinations can be an effective way for seniors to minimize exposure to common viruses.
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.
2. Unmanaged Chronic Conditions
An immune system already affected by natural aging is likely to be even weaker when an older adult is also living with a chronic condition, especially one that’s not being sufficiently treated. Common chronic issues that tend to affect aging adults include:
• Type 2 diabetes
• Chronic hypertension (high blood pressure)
• Recurring respiratory ailments
3. Recovery from a Serious Illness
Seniors are more likely to have weak immunity when they’re recovering from serious or lengthy illnesses. This is also true if an older adult is in the process of recovering from surgery. During times like these, it’s important to be especially mindful of germ exposure. If your loved one is on the mend or getting over a serious illness, provide some added protection by:
• Limiting in-person visits as he or she recovers
• Using antibacterial wipes to keep commonly used surfaces clean
• Reporting any signs of infection or worsening symptoms to his or her doctor
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 elderly home care Richmond, VA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
4. Poor Eating Habits
Older adults sometimes have issues with immunity because of a lack of sufficient nutrition. Not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals can make the immune system work harder and increase vulnerability to irregular molecules that damage cells (free radicals). Essential nutrients older adults need to keep their immune systems functioning well include:
• Vitamin C, which is found in citrus fruits, juices, berries, and red and green peppers
• Vitamin E, which can be obtained from almonds, seeds, and leafy green veggies
• Zinc, which is found in cashews, shellfish, certain dairy products, whole grains, and legumes
• Carotenoids, which can be found in carrots, tomatoes, winter squash, plums, mangoes, and apricots
Omega-3 fatty acids can also boost immunity. Tuna, mackerel, and salmon are some of the fish that contain high amounts of this nutrient. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be found in walnuts and flaxseed. If your loved one is unable to get sufficient immunity-boosting nutrients from diet alone, talk to his or her doctor about appropriate dietary supplements.
5. Lack of Sufficient Exercise
Physical activity helps the immune system flush out harmful bacteria and toxins that can cause problems for older adults. Regular moderate exercise can help the immune system function at optimal levels. There’s also research suggesting exercise can reduce instances of seasonal illnesses. Walking, swimming, yoga, water aerobics, and cycling are just some of the many ways older adults can get sufficient exercise.
Aging in place can present a few unique challenges for older adults. Some only require part-time assistance with exercise or meal preparation, while others are living with serious illnesses and benefit more significantly from receiving live-in care. Richmond, VA, Home Care Assistance are leaders in the elderly in-home care industry for good reason. We tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual needs, our caregivers continue to receive updated training in senior care as new developments arise, and we also offer comprehensive care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at Richmond (804) 741-0009 or Williamsburg (757) 220-3151.