Jan 10, 2019 by Katie Fielmann
Our immune system weakens and breaks down with age. Our skin becomes thinner, our stomach acid is not as strong so more viruses and bacteria can make it into the intestines, and antibodies developed in youth lose their strength. Immunizations are an important way that seniors can help their body improve the immune system and fight off illness. Health care providers recommend annual flu shots and several vaccination boosters. Sadly, most American seniors forego this simple but effective way of reducing potentially fatal illnesses, including influenza, pneumonia, pertussis, tetanus, diphtheria, and shingles.
Even though respiratory diseases, such as pneumonia and influenza, are the eighth leading cause of death among seniors, only 66 percent of elders get their flu shot and only 46 percent are immunized against pneumonia. The problem compounds when you consider that seniors have more instances of diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and cardiovascular disease, which can lead to severe complications from pneumonia and influenza, including death. For example, diabetics have three times the fatality risk from influenza than a non-diabetic.
Shingles is another common senior ailment that can be dealt with through vaccination, but only 16 percent of seniors take advantage of it. Shingles is an incredibly painful ailment similar to chicken pox that can lead to postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) and severe, debilitating pain, permanent nerve damage, blindness, scarring, and an increased risk of stroke and pneumonia.
Researchers think that a primary reason that seniors are not immunized at a higher rate is a lack of education and information. Many seniors are afraid that the side effects may be worse than the sickness or believe they are still covered by childhood immunizations. Health care providers can help you get the most current information on vaccinations and ensure you have the healthy immune system you need to keep healthy. Next time you have a doctor's appointment, ask them to review your vaccination record and see if there are any boosters that are needed.
Seniors who need help getting to and from health care providers should take advantage of Comfort Keepers local transportation support. With Comfort Keepers, there is never a transportation-related reason that you need to miss an appointment, procedure, engagement, or outing.
Your immune system needs all the help it can get. To learn more about senior immunizations or the many ways Comfort Keepers works with your health care providers to keep you safe, secure, and healthy, contact a care provider today.
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