Senior Living Care Blog

How To Boost The Immune System In The Elderly

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Aug 14, 2019 11:00:00 AM


As we age, our bodies become more and more susceptible to injury, sickness, and disease. Not only do we experience things like a reduction in bone density and loss of balance, both of which can lead to harmful falls, but we also deal with a loss of immune functioning.


Unfortunately, as the immune system weakens, it becomes more likely that we will not only deal with common and uncommon health issues like the cold and other illnesses, but the illnesses will cause more problems and even potentially lead to life-threatening issues.


How Does The Immune System Work?

A man thinking about how the immune system works

To put it simply, the immune system in the body is meant to defend itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful. Essentially, it is meant to protect the host from chemicals and other substances that could cause harm.


The immune system is made up of special cells, tissues, and organs that work in conjunction to protect the body. The white blood cells are the cells of the immune system. They work by trapping viruses, bacteria, and other invaders, including cancer cells to protect the body.


Without the immune system, you would constantly be getting sick from germs like bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, aging causes the immune system to weaken, making it more likely for seniors to deal with chronic illnesses.


The Immune System And Seniors

As we know, the immune system provides an important function but aging can cause the effectiveness of the immune system to fall. The immune system becomes slower to respond and, in turn, the body may heal more slowly. Moreover, the immune system’s ability to detect and solve cell defects also declines a problem that can result in cancer.


All of these issues increase your chance of getting sick and dealing with some diseases. Flu shots and other vaccines may not work as well or protect you as long as they are expected to.


It should be noted that autoimmune disorder, a disease in which the immune system can mistakenly attack and destroy healthy body tissue, can develop.


Boosting The Immune System

A bowl of vegetables. Eating healthy foods can help boost the immune system.

While seniors are one major at-risk group when it comes to a weakened immune system, there are things that you can do and things you can avoid to help improve immune functioning.


What To Do

There are many things that you can begin to do to help improve immune health.


Eat Healthy — What you put in your body has one of the biggest effects on your immune system. If you are not eating right, it will show. Luckily there are several foods that you can eat to boost and improve immune health and functioning. For one, getting a protein-rich diet can help to boost the immune system. Along with meats, beans, and other high-protein foods, you can also prioritize things like garlic, spinach, turmeric, ginger, and more to improve your immune health.


Exercise — Besides helping with weight regulation, self confidence, and an array of other things, exercise can lead to a number of positive health benefits include an increase in immune functioning. Moderate exercise including bicycling, daily walks, even playing golf can all help improve how well your immune system works.


Sleep — According to the Mayo Clinic, lack of sleep can have an effect on your immune system. Studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep or good quality sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to some sort of bacteria or virus. Similarly, a lack of sleep can affect how fast you recover if you do end up getting sick.


What To Avoid

Along with things that you can start incorporating in your life there are a number of lifestyle changes that you can make and things that you should avoid when it comes to immune health.


Smoking — Smoking cigarettes and using tobacco leads to a number of different health consequences, one of the most prominent problems is its effect on the immune system. Cigarettes contain large amounts of tar and other chemicals when can have harmful effects on your immune system, making it less effective at fighting off infections.


Alcohol — Like smoking cigarettes, alcohol affects nearly every organ and function of the body, including the immune system. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to immune deficiency and increase the susceptibility of certain diseases. Alcohol impairs the ability of white blood cells to migrate to sites of injury and infection. Fortunately, by limiting or stopping alcohol use, you can avoid these issues entirely.


Stress — Research has shown that people who experience long-term or intense stress can deal with a number of issues, one of which includes a weakened immune system. This can lead to people being more prone to viral infections like the flu or common cold. There are a number of ways in which you can improve your situation and reduce stress. One of the best ways to do this is through exercise, a natural stress reliever.


These are just a few of the simple things you can do to help improve your situation and strengthen and prolong immune health.


Next Steps

The immune system plays a big role in keeping the body healthy and preventing diseases and infections. Unfortunately, functioning of the immune system starts to dip as we age and for many seniors it can lead to problems like getting the flu, common cold, or other problem. And these issues will likely be worse than normal and can even lead to life-threatening conditions for some seniors. Problems like these can make it difficult for some seniors to live on their own. Luckily, there are a number of caregivers and assisted living facilities that are willing to help.


Landmark Senior Living in Hobbs New Mexico is an organization that is dedicated to providing the care and treatment that your loved one requires and deserves at this stage in their life. If you are interested in learning more about Landmark, please take a look at our website and schedule a free tour of one of our facilities.


Learn More Here!


Topics: Senior Tips

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