As people age, there is a common conception that their immune system often ages with them. While this is true in many cases, it can also be a misconception, as there are many ways the elderly can stimulate their immune systems and help to fight off diseases longer in an otherwise healthy body. At UEW Healthcare, we help cancer and other occupational illness victims covered under the EEOICPA and RECA and provide resources like this article and blog to help the elderly and families of the elderly learn more about their health. Immune system health and balance is a question we commonly face, and to expand on the issues and question many elderly people have about their immune systems, this article details a little bit about why the immune system slows down as we age and how to potentially reverse its effects.
How the Immune System Slows Down with Age
When people age, the immune system can do some very interesting things. Among these are some of the following:
- Autoimmune diseases: This is where the immune system is unable to distinguish foreign, dangerous substances, such as viruses and bacteria, from the body’s own cells. The immune system then starts attacking different healthy cells that keep the body functioning.
- Macrophage slowing: Macrophages are a type of white blood cell that ingests bacteria and other foreign cells to prevent diseases. As people age, these macrophages often slow down and may not be able to keep up with all of the antigens that enter someone’s body.
- Reduced white blood cell count: As people age, white blood cells, which are the cells responsible for responding to disease, are drastically reduced in number, making fighting off infection more difficult.
- Antibody strength: Often, antibodies for a particular disease become weaker and are less and less able to attach to previously-introduced antigens.
Why the Immune System Slows Down
The immediate causes of a slowing immune system are not completely known by the scientific and medical community. We do know some common causes for unhealthy bodies, however, which is a large contributing factor to a weak immune system. If we generally keep our bodies healthy, even in old age, our immune systems are less likely to experience problems. There may still be issues we face that still weaken the immune system, but in general, immune system strength is often equivalent to the dedication of healthy living.
How to Keep an Immune System Healthy in Old Age
As stated in the previous paragraph, a healthy body is equal to a healthy immune system, for the most part. To keep your body healthy, it is recommended that elderly people get the right dose of vitamins and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Nutrition requirements change slightly with age, so be sure you know how much you should be eating and how many vitamins and minerals you need to consume to stay healthy. It’s also important to exercise by stretching, doing cardio, or improving muscles for 30 minutes almost every day. Get enough sleep, get vaccinations, and avoid drinking or smoking. These general steps often prove very effective for mitigating the effect of immune system deterioration.
If You Are Sick with Occupational Illnesses
If you or a loved one is afflicted with an occupational disease covered under the EEOICPA and RECA because of your work with the DOE, call our professionals at UEW Healthcare today. We are here to help you and to start the process of healing by offering free home healthcare services, so call us today and get healthcare and help that you need.