Give your immune system more time

One of the frustrations of the elderly is the fact that as time passes, all systems and senses tend to be compromised.

Give your immune system more time

One of the frustrations of the elderly is the fact that as time passes, all systems and senses tend to be compromised.

Eyesight, taste, digestion, mobility, reaction time, just to name a few, begin to decline with time and as the result of years of use, and perhaps abuse.

Perhaps the most important system, in terms of risky decline, is the immune system. This is the body’s defense against disease and infection and once compromised, an individual is both more susceptible to catching something and more likely to have a severe case of it. A weakened immune system is a huge hole through which uninvited bacterial and viral guests can readily attack one’s health.

Young children and the elderly are most likely to have compromised immune systems. As well, those who have respiratory problems, diabetes, or have been treated recently with chemotherapy, also tend to have reduced resistance to invading organisms. For that matter, anyone whose health is at risk due to poor lifestyle choices, high stress or substance abuse, can fall into the category of compromised immune systems.

With the cooling fall temperatures, the tendency for windows to be closed and heating systems to be turned on results in a much greater likelihood that everyone is breathing recycled air that might contain airborne viruses. As well, with children back in school, the potential for diseases to spread throughout a population increases dramatically.  It doesn’t take much time for a virus to travel from a daycare to a seniors’ home once the movement of families is accounted for.

The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that flu-related deaths range from 2,000-8,000 a year, depending on how severe the strain of flu is during the season.  The majority of those deaths fall into the over-65 age group, and given the fact that many elderly deaths are attributed to secondary effects, like pneumonia, the numbers and proportions are likely even higher.

There is no simple answer to a compromised immune system.  The usual elements of proper diet, exercise and sleep are important but as aging occurs, even the best lifestyle is not enough.  There comes a time when you must give your immune system more time to prepare for a potential attack.

In the past 10 years, public health agencies have made persistent attempts to encourage anyone with a compromised immune system to take advantage of advances in flu vaccines. While no vaccination is a guarantee against all flu variations, it does help to fire up the immune system to be as prepared as possible when the inevitable flu season hits. It is an option every elderly person should discuss with his/her physician.


Graham Hookey writes on education, parenting and eldercare (

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A small memorial to Rich Goulet at Pitt Meadows Secondary honoured the late coach. (The News files)
LETTER: Pitt Meadows petition signer lobs gym naming question back into school board’s court

Thousands of people have signed a petition to name a gym after the late coach Rich Goulet

Have an opinion you’d like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
LETTER: Maple Ridge resident impressed with frontline workers when husband hurt

From police to health professionals, everyone who cared for injured senior deserves praise

Residents of Golf Lane say they are tired of their houses and vehicles being hit by golf balls from the nearby Maple Ridge Golf Course, and worry someone is going to get killed by a wayward drive. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Maple Ridge Golf Course neighbours say they need protection

City willing to explore solutions says director of parks

Former Pitt Meadows city councillor David Murray was convicted of sex assault, and is now being sued by the victim. (files)
Former Pitt Meadows city councillor sued for sex assault

David Murray was convicted in 2017 of sexually assaulting a teen 25 years earlier

Ineke Boekhorst with the Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association says Sparkle has been a huge hit with downtown businesses. (The News files)
Maple Ridge business to get free Earth Day window cleaning

Event put on by the Downtown Maple Ridge BIA and Christian Life Assembly

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo)
B.C. Supreme Court expands services to offer sittings in Port Coquitlam

Starting Monday, sittings for some civil and family matters will be held in the Tri-Cities courthouse

Photos of Vancouver Canucks players are pictured outside the closed box office of Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver Thursday, April 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canucks games against Leafs postponed as team returns from COVID-19

The team has had 11 games postponed since an outbreak late last month

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nick Warmerdam and his dog Diesel are inviting locals to check out the Lakeland Farm U-pick Flower Farm this spring. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
VIDEO & SLIDESHOW: Abbotsford’s Lakeland Flowers opens for spring

Tulip farm attraction opened on April 14, open to the public daily seven days a week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

The female driver of this Jeep Grand Cherokee (right) was driving erratically with a young child inside on Highway 1 eastbound. After hitting a barrier and a parked car, she finally exited the highway at Yale Road West and came to a stop. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Video captures woman driving erratically with child after hitting barrier, car on Hwy 1 in Chilliwack

Smoke seen coming from SUV as it continues to travel eastbound of shoulder of highway

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Most Read