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How Does the Immune System Change with Age?

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As the immune system ages, seniors have less protection against cancer, bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Traumatized tissues also take longer to heal. Processes cause inflammation to intensify, which makes older adults more susceptible to developing autoimmune disorders. Here are a few ways the immune system changes with age. 

There is an increase in cytokine chemical messengers that trigger inflammation. However, they fail to differentiate between foreign body invasions and natural body tissues. The result leads to a higher risk of developing autoimmune disorders. Researchers theorize that the inflammatory response is one of the reasons seniors are more susceptible to the flu, infectious endocarditis, pneumonia, and tetanus. The malfunction of inflammatory responses may also be responsible for the development of atherosclerosis, cancer, and dementia.

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder care. Rocklin families trust Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.  

The chemical messengers that normally stimulate the white blood cells to destroy invading microbes and malignant cells become fewer in number. Older bodies simply don’t manufacture as many of the proteins needed to create the messenger compounds. As a result, white blood cells then take longer to respond to infections or cancer cells. 

Although T and B cells remain the same in number, they aren’t equipped to attack new forms of infection or cellular abnormalities because the cells are no longer able to attach to invading antigens. Another reason for the issue involves the lack of new T and B cells being manufactured. As the cells age, the protective telomeres on the ends of DNA strands shorten, which leaves the genetic material vulnerable to alterations. As such, the cells can’t replicate or function properly if they do reproduce. 

A weak immune system makes older adults susceptible to a wide variety of health issues. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Rocklin seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

The few new cells that are manufactured are insufficient in number to effectively combat perceived invasions, and the new white blood cells also aren’t equipped with the memory of previous infections. Thus, these cells may not react in a defensive manner. 

The changes in the immune system commonly make vaccinations less effective, which is one of the reasons seniors are advised to get certain vaccinations annually in addition to routine booster inoculations.

Older adults who consume diets of processed foods high in sugar and preservatives weaken their immune systems. Sugar is known to cause inflammation and increase the risk of various medical disorders. Researchers published an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition explaining that after drinking or eating foods with high sugar contents, white blood cells require hours before they can effectively kill invading microbes.

Many seniors become less physically active in their later years. Becoming sedentary hampers blood and lymph circulation, which interferes with the immune system’s ability to travel throughout the body to provide adequate protection.

If your aging parent needs help maintaining a healthy and purposeful life, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional home care. Rocklin, California, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. To create a comprehensive in-home care plan for your elderly parent, call us at 916.226.3737 today.