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.