Why Are Adults 65 and Over at Greater Risk for the Flu?


The Correlation Between Aging And Influenza
That song “The Circle of Life” as popularized by 1995’s The Lion King can definitely serve as a metaphor for sickness in the young and the old. In the extremely young, immune systems have yet to fully develop. Because they aren’t fully developed, infants are going to catch diseases more quickly than older children. Thankfully, many such children are able to overcome them. Meanwhile, on the other end of the circle is old age, wherein the immune system becomes weakened through years of questionable living or plain old entropy. Often a combination of the two are at play, but regardless of the culprit, advanced age increases susceptibility to sickness. Even worse, that sickness can hang around for a very long time, and eventually transition into pneumonia. As pneumonia sinks into the lungs, it can definitely become untreatable, and lead to fatality.

Influenza Statistics
Something like 50,000 people die every year from complications that result from the influenza virus or pneumonia. It’s not the flu itself that deals the deathblow. Rather, it’s what happens as other sicknesses begin to take up residence in the body due to an already compromised defense mechanism.

The only way to really combat this is through lifestyle choice. In the young, there isn’t much that can be done outside protection. Until your child is a certain age, and has had time to develop immunities, you’re going to want to keep them relatively sheltered. Advancing age means you’re going to have to get the older person to eat right, exercise regularly, and avoid harmful foodstuffs as well as harmful situations.

Harmful Situations
A group of known individuals that aren’t strangers will be more healthy than a group of strangers. Even if one of the circle is sick, in a known group everyone has had time to become accustomed to varying biological systems, meaning there are natural defenses available that can help bring protection. But a public situation where many diverse people from many diverse circles are mingling can be very dangerous to those north of sixty-five. Generally, avoiding places where people are packed together in dense arrays will help maintain health.

Regular Physical Activity
For anyone at any time in life, physical activity is key to maintaining health. With those who are sixty-five and older, certain realms of activity may be strictly off-limits. Still, it’s not too late to begin good exercise habits which can end up strengthening the immune system and bringing youth to the body. Working out regularly at physical activities you enjoy, and eating requisite to your caloric loss, can definitely strengthen your immune system.

Keep Athwart of Harmful Food
Artificial sweeteners are bad for you, period. While their links to Alzheimer’s may be spurious, it’s definitely known that sugar substitutes are related to a variety of health conditions that aren’t amenable to proper immune system functionality. Chief among these conditions, paradoxically enough, is excessive weight gain. Many sugar substitutes are sweeter than sugar is, and so become an addiction in their own right worse than the one trying to be curtailed. This weight gain limits healthy physical activity, decreasing immune system health.

Influenza Vaccinations
These can help your immune system fight off a virus, but you must be sure you’re in good health when you receive them.

Being Mindful
Generally, remaining healthy in old age requires having a mindful approach to all these things, including:

  • Avoiding Germ-Rich Situations
  • Maintaining Regular Physical Exercise
  • Avoiding Unhealthy Foods
  • Healthy Vaccinations

Follow these steps and your immune system will be better enabled to thwart sicknesses like influenza and the common cold.

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