Why Are Aging Adults More Susceptible to Illness?

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What Makes Older Adults More Vulnerable to Illness in Orlando, FL

There are many reasons seniors are more susceptible to illness. Oftentimes, as the body ages, many systems no longer function in the same way. The problem is exacerbated if older adults don’t live healthy lifestyles. Here are some of the top reasons aging adults are more prone to illnesses.

Decreased Immunity

Macrophages, natural killer cells, and T cells are some of the body’s defenses against infection. They respond to perceived invaders and remember each battle. When adults become older, their bodies slow the production of these protective cells. The new cells don’t have the memory of the older cells and therefore cannot protect seniors as effectively. The immune cells also fail to communicate with each other as they did before the onset of old age. The chemical processes that tell the immune system an attack is necessary also become deficient. For this reason, older adults don’t recover from infections, injuries, and illnesses as quickly. Infections in seniors are also more likely to become serious.

Most older adults prefer to recover from illnesses at home, and they often require assistance to do so safely. In Windermere, respite care is a great help to many families. Caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times, which puts family caregivers at risk for burnout. However, an in-home caregiver can take over your loved one’s care, allowing you the time you need to focus on your own health, maintain a full-time job, or care for other members of your family.

Malnourishment

Studies indicate up to 11 percent of seniors don’t get the nutrition they need. Undernourishment may occur secondary to cognitive impairment, depression, undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes, or financial challenges. Without the proper nutrients, the body cannot function properly. Deficiencies in iron, protein, and vitamin B12 hamper the processes that enable the body to make new immune cells and chemical messengers.

If your loved one needs help shopping for healthy foods and preparing nutritious meals, hiring a professional caregiver can be an ideal solution. Elderly home care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. 

Medication Side Effects

Several common over-the-counter and prescription medications may pose a risk to the immune system. When an individual takes antibiotics, the medication often eliminates both good and bad bacteria. With a deficiency of good microbes, yeast cells proliferate, resulting in yeast or fungal infections.

Chemotherapy formulations are known to weaken immunity, which increases susceptibility to infections. Some older adults need prescription corticosteroids and TNF inhibitors for chronic inflammatory conditions. However, these medications can weaken the immune system’s ability to prevent or fight infections. 

Older adults with inflammatory gastrointestinal disorders take proton pump inhibitors. The medications are designed to block the release of stomach acid, but the environment is then a prime location for microbes to grow and thrive without the threat of being eliminated by the acidity. Analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications, and antidepressants can also interfere with immune activity.

Herpes Zoster (Shingles)

Before the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine, many adults had the illness as children. The varicella zoster virus that causes chickenpox remains in the body permanently, and as adults become older, the virus commonly resurfaces and causes a painful condition known as shingles.

Compromised Respiratory System

Adults living with chronic asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema have compromised lungs. The inability to take full deep breaths and expel carbon dioxide interferes with the oxygenation process. As the lung tissue is already damaged, the lungs are more susceptible to developing an infection. For this reason, the common cold may turn into pneumonia. Seniors using inhalant medications to enhance breathing are also susceptible to yeast infections throughout the respiratory tract.

Even when seniors lead healthy lifestyles, they’re more susceptible to illness simply as a natural result of the aging process. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of homecare. Altamonte Springs Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (407) 232-7155.

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