National Immunization Awareness Month is upon us, so take this time to understand the critical role vaccines play in maintaining one’s health, especially senior health. For seniors, staying up to date on immunizations is especially important given that, as we age, the immune system begins to weaken. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, immunizations can help prevent diseases that can potentially have severe, even fatal consequences for seniors. Unfortunately, research also shows that most Americans over 60 years of age fail to get all the inoculations they need to keep themselves protected from diseases.
Why Are Immunizations Important for Seniors?
The immune system declines with age, rendering the body vulnerable to catching diseases it might have otherwise been able to fight off. This puts seniors at an increased risk for developing complications from any illnesses contracted. Additionally, seniors often take longer to heal and might even experience long-lasting side effects from it that linger and never fully recover. As the body tries to fight off these diseases, the immune system will continue to weaken and, if more illnesses are contracted in this weakened state, even a mild virus like influenza could have deadly consequences.
The best way to improve a seniors’ chances of preventing such dangerous illnesses, is to simply inoculate them against not only the riskiest conditions, but the most common ones as well. According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older individuals should consider scheduling immunizations for the flu, shingles, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (the latter three are available in a single vaccine known as the Tdap vaccine).
Most Seniors Never Receive All Necessary Vaccinations
Despite the risks associated with failing to receive these vaccines, it is estimated that about 75% of adults over the age of 60 do not receive the shingles vaccine. For seniors, the shingles vaccine is the most crucial and only one dose is required to protect them against the shingles virus, which is caused by the same virus that leads to chicken pox. Shingles, however, is much more severe and long-lasting, causing rashes, fever, and nerve pain that can linger for weeks, months, or even years.
According to the CDC, the shingles vaccine typically has mild and short-lived side effects, including swelling or itching at the injection site. If you are concerned about encountering difficulties in obtaining this vaccine, it is actually quite accessible. Most doctors, pharmacists, and health clinics routinely offer this immensely beneficial vaccine, and it might be covered by insurance and certain Medicare plans.
Not only do many seniors neglect to acquire the shingles vaccine, but they also do not regularly get their annual flu vaccine. 40% of adults over the age of 60 are missing shots for pneumonia and more than 50% skip updates their tetanus vaccines.
Why are so many of the most vulnerable individuals in our society failing to receive these life-saving vaccines? The culprit is, in all likelihood, a lack of education and awareness. Many elderly adults are simply unaware of the health risks and do not know which shots they need or how to get them. If you have an elderly loved one, you should talk to him or her about immunizations and find out which are in need of updates and which are missing. Seniors should also ask their doctors about vaccines and find out if they are eligible for any during their next appointment. They should also inquire which will be most effective and secure for their needs since not all vaccines are safe for every patient.
Hampton Adult Day Care
If you are caring for an elderly parent or relative, you understand this responsibility can be a full-time job in addition to everything else you must do. At Mount Carmel Assisted Living, our Hampton adult day care facility provides full-time caregivers the opportunity to take time for themselves. We specialize in accommodating residents affected by a range of memory impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Our facilities offer a unique and calming environment that feels like home, complete with traditional residential furniture, beautiful gardens and paved walkways, and a sitting area.
Since 1986, our Hampton Assisted Living and Memory Care Facility has been dedicated to providing personalized and attentive care to individuals throughout the Henry County and South Metro Atlanta area.
If you would like to learn more about the services we offer, or take a tour of our facilities, contact us today at (770) 824-3385. Walk-ins are welcome Monday through Friday and scheduled tours are available 7 days a week.