What Causes Seniors to Have Weaker Immune Systems?

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Why Seniors Have Weaker Immune Systems in Portland, ME

Immune function naturally decreases with age, which makes seniors more susceptible to illnesses. Luckily, there are quite a few steps older adults can take to boost their immune systems and preserve their health. Here’s a quick look at just a few of the reasons the immune system becomes weaker during the aging process and some steps that can be taken to preserve immune function.

Understanding the Immune System

Immunosenescence is the medical term used to describe the gradual decrease in immune function, and almost everyone is going to experience this issue in the senior years. When coming into contact with bacteria and other germs, the immune system responds by attacking the foreign substances with protective blood cells. The compromised cells are then sent through various organs to flush them out of the body. The lymph nodes are the primary components of the immune system, but the kidneys and liver play important roles as well. 

Aging and Immune Function

There are a few different reasons older adults seem to have much weaker immune systems. Even though seniors are exposed to countless germs over the years, the thymus is slowly going to shrink. That unique component of the immune system is responsible for sending out healthy T cells to battle germs, and it can’t respond as quickly once it begins to shrink. It’s also important to note that the T cells themselves become less efficient with age. With a weaker immune response, a basic cold or flu that could once be overcome within a day or two might take weeks to recover from.

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 homecare services. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Other Contributing Factors

Practically every older adult experiences at least a few health complications over the years, and those issues could potentially weaken the immune system. Diabetes seems to be particularly bad for the immune system, and seniors who have this disease are much more likely to become ill. Even though most medications aren’t going to impact the immune system, some drugs can wreak havoc on a senior’s T cell count as well. Older adults who continue to face difficulty with ongoing illnesses should speak with their doctors about all the medications they’re taking to see if one of those drugs could be the culprit.

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 home care Portland, ME, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

Boosting the Immune System

While seniors will never be able to fully restore their immune systems, they can do quite a bit to fight off illnesses and boost their overall health. One of the best things seniors can do for their immune systems is to speak with their doctors about their options for vaccinations. Immunizations aren’t going to strengthen the immune system, but they can prevent a wide variety of illnesses. Keeping chronic medical conditions under control is very important as well, and this includes diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. 

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. Portland, ME, 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. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (207) 835-4849 to schedule a free in-home consultation.