Why Does the Immune System Get Weaker with Age?

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Seniors tend to discover they get sick more easily and symptoms last longer as they advance in age. While some weakening of the immune system is part of the normal aging process, seniors don’t have to accept getting the sniffles every other week. Instead, they can be proactive by addressing the following common causes of weakened immune systems in older adults. 

Strain from Other Health Conditions

The immune system can only do so much. Over time, health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease place stress on the body that can slow down the immune system. If your loved one has known health conditions, help him or her stay on top of the treatment plan. Seniors with recurring health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also need to rest more during flare-ups.

Families who are caring for loved ones with chronic or serious health conditions don’t have to face the challenges alone. If you’re the primary family caregiver for a senior loved one living in Richmond, live-in care is available if your loved one’s health has become too difficult to manage without professional expertise. At Home Care Assistance, we take measures to help seniors prevent illness and injury by assisting with exercise and mobility, preparing nutritious meals, helping with bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, and much more.

Side Effects of Medications

Certain medications are known to lower immunity, and your loved one is more likely to take one of these to treat health issues that occur with age. For instance, corticosteroids are great for reducing inflammation in people with lupus or arthritis. However, these medications affect the immune system and increase the risk of fungal infections. Chemotherapy medications also cause immunosuppression. Always let the doctor know about any medications your loved one takes so the physician can help you watch for the symptoms of infections your loved one is at risk for developing. 

A weakened immune system puts your loved one at higher risk for illnesses such as flu and pneumonia, and hiring a professional caregiver to assist with recovery can give you peace of mind. Living alone at home in the golden years can present a few unique challenges. Trust at-home care professionals to help your senior loved one maintain a higher quality of life while he or she lives with an illness and performs the daily tasks of living. 

Too Much Stress

As anyone who has ever had a cold sore at the worst moment can attest, stress is terrible for the immune system. Seniors who worry about finances or how to take care of their homes are more likely to have weakened immune systems than those who have solid support networks. 

Encourage your loved one to talk about the things that bother him or her so you can work together to find solutions to ease the stress. For instance, just having a caregiver visit a few times a week to wash dishes, chop vegetables, and have a friendly chat could raise your loved one’s spirits and boost his or her immune system’s function. 

Poor Diet

There’s some truth to the belief that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. As with the body’s other systems, the immune system needs nutrients to be able to operate at peak efficiency. Seniors should strive to eat a diet rich in nutrients that help the body produce enough immune cells to fight off disease. 

Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

Smoking, drinking too much, and being sedentary are all factors that negatively affect immunity. The immune system has to work overtime to rid the body of the toxins in tobacco and alcohol. Sitting too much slows down blood flow through the body, so every cell receives less oxygen. Encourage your loved one to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as going for a short walk each day, to take the burden off his or her immune system. 

Weakened immunity often causes seniors to experience more severe symptoms with various illnesses, and recovering at home may require assistance. 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 Richmond, VA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (804) 207-4746.


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