Immune senescence is the term to describe the tendency for an aging immune system to allow more infections, cancers and diseases to take hold1. The immune system in elderly do not respond well to the vaccines, because of the lack of T-cells, which are responsible of remembering an “invader”, and defend against it better later. Because of producing fewer immune cells, including white blood cells, seniors recover from injuries, infections and illness more slowly.

 

Moreover, one of the considerable risk of declining the immune system in elderly is malnutrition. Physical conditions common in elderly persons, which include disability, medication-induced anorexia, poor dentition, restrictive diets, gastrointestinal diseases, and metabolic disorders (such as diabetes mellitus and renal failure), all affect nutritional intake and metabolic demand. Furthermore, cultural and psychosocial issues, such as living alone, bereavement, situational depression, and religious beliefs, may reduce nutrient intake2.

Fortunately, there are some approaches and strategies which can enhance the seniors immune system.

1. Eating more fresh vegetables and fruit and avoiding processed food. It is never late for developing a healthy diet. That can be a major step to gradually boost antioxidants levels and strengthen the immune system. If the senior has diabetes, arthritis, or other things that affect ones feeling and function, has to follow doctor’s recommendations. Older people should discuss the intake of dietary supplements with a physician who is well versed in geriatric nutrition, because while some dietary supplementation may be beneficial for older people, even small changes can have serious repercussions in this age group3.

2. Maintaining a healthy weight. Generally, overweight or obesity put the body at greater risk in many ways. A weakened immune system is one result.

3. Exercising regularly. Moderate exercise helps keep fit, which makes immune system stronger. Research also suggests it helps cells move more freely, which helps them do their job better.

4. Getting adequate sleep. Good night sleep has a big bearing on overall health.

5. Quitting smoking. Smoking itself is the single greatest, avoidable negative influence on the immune system. Smoking causes lung inflammation, using up antibodies that could fight infections elsewhere. This all puts senior more at risk for other illnesses, such as pneumonia and flu.

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