Nobody likes to get sick, but older adults tend to be more susceptible to illness than their younger counterparts. If you’re providing some type of care for an older loved one, you may have concerns about the possibility of issues with infections, seasonal viruses, and other health problems common among the elderly. Here’s a closer look at why seniors are more prone to illness and what can be done to minimize risks that may affect them.
Chronic Health IssuesThe National Council on Aging estimates approximately 90 percent of seniors have at least one chronic health problem. Heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer are the most common health issues among older adults. Such conditions can contribute to a wide range of related illnesses. Chronic health issues may become less of a concern if seniors:
- Make appropriate lifestyle changes
- Follow doctor recommendations for the management of chronic health issues
- Get annual checkups and health screenings to look for undetected chronic conditions
Age-Related Immune System ChangesOver time, the body’s immune system naturally becomes less capable of handling new threats, such as viruses. This increases the risk of having issues with various illnesses. What seniors can do is take steps to keep aging immune systems working as efficiently as possible. AARP recommends seniors accomplish this goal by:
- Staying active
- Adopting a Mediterranean-style diet that includes fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and fatty fish
- Managing stress
- Seeing if supplements may be appropriate to correct nutritional deficiencies
Inactive LifestylesMany seniors are vital and active, but this isn’t always the case. Being less active increases susceptibility to illness because of what inactivity can do to the various parts of the body, including joints, bones, muscles, and various organs, such as the heart. In fact, the CDC ranks heart disease as the leading cause of death among adults 65 and older. From daily walking to swimming, biking, gardening, and yoga, there are many enjoyable and beneficial ways seniors can become more active and lower their risk of illness. Even when seniors follow 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 in-home care. Waterloo 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.
Lack of Sufficient SleepNearly 50 percent of adults 60 and older report having sleep-related issues, according to the National Institutes of Health. A lack of high-quality sleep can affect the immune system and increase older adults’ susceptibility to illness. “High-quality” sleep refers to uninterrupted sleep that allows the body to naturally heal tissues and rejuvenate cells while in the deeper stages of sleep. Seniors who aren’t sleeping well can enhance their sleep habits by:
- Sticking to a regular sleep schedule
- Not drinking soda or anything stimulating prior to bedtime
- Staying active during the day to reduce daytime napping
- Seeing if there are medical or medication issues that may be affecting sleep