Friday, May 17, 2024
HomeFactsDoes Dementia Weaken The Immune System

Does Dementia Weaken The Immune System

Why Risks Are Higher With Dementia

Repeated Covid Booster Shots May Disrupt Immune System: EU Regulators
  • Hygiene problems: People with dementia are prone to use improper wiping techniques after using the bathroom, such as wiping from back to front instead of front to back. This can increase the spread of bacteria.
  • Women:Approximately two-thirds of people with dementia are women. Women also have an increased risk of a UTI because of how their urinary systems are structured.
  • Incontinence: As dementia progresses, the ability to control bladder and bowel urges declines. Low-quality adult incontinence pads can add to the problem because they dont absorb urine well, which then causes it to sit right against the skin and increases the risk of infection, as well as skin problems such as pressure sores. Soiled incontinence products should be changed as soon as possible.
  • Reduced physical mobility:Physical ability declines as dementia progresses, and limited movement increases the risk of a UTI.
  • Other conditions common in older adults: This includes a tendency to have a weaker immune system, a higher risk of diabetes, the potential for urinary retention, and prostate problems in men.

How Aging Affects Your Immune System

Does it seem like you get sick more than you did when you were younger. When you are under the weather, does it take you longer to feel good again?

Immunity — your bodyâs defense system — tends to get weaker with age.

âJust as you probably canât run as fast as you used to in your 20s, your immune system doesnât work as well as it used to,â says Aaron E. Glatt, MD, chairman of the department of medicine at South Nassau Communities Hospitals.

But fear not — at least not much.

âCompared to many other bodily functions, most peopleâs immune systems actually do really great at any age,â Glatt says. Most of our immune systems work well enough that our risk for infection and illness isnât much higher than normal. Even better? No matter how old you are, thereâs a lot you can do to stay healthy.

Be Attentive To Their Needs

Sharon Cohen, the Medical Director of the Toronto Memory Center, also said that people with dementia may have more difficulty expressing themselves and therefore making their symptoms known.

Being an attentive friend, family member or partner involves being a good listener and frequently checking up on how someone is doing or feeling to mitigate reduced communication abilities, she said.

James Ellison, a geriatric and adult psychiatrist at Christiana Care in Delaware, seconded the concern about communication abilities and added that depending on level of impairment, a person with dementia may not even notice their own symptoms if they contract the coronavirus.

Recommended Reading: Pathophysiology Of Dementia Disease

Involvement Of Peripheral Immune Cells In Ad Pathogenesis

Innate immune cells

Inside the brain, ongoing AD pathology leads to the differentiation of microglia into a novel type associated with neurodegenerative diseases with altered molecular expression profile and limited phagocytic capacity . The precise origin of plaque-surrounding amoeboid myeloid cells has long been debated, owing to the technical challenge of distinguishing infiltrating myeloid cells from locally-activated microglia. Nevertheless, recent evidence suggests that peripherally-derived macrophages can engraft the brain and maintain a unique functional and transcriptional identity in CNS . Infiltrating peripheral myeloid cells have been demonstrated to participate in A clearance, leading to the notion that monocytes are superior phagocytes when traversed inside the AD brain . However, such a conclusion is challenged by studies showing that infiltrating peripheral myeloid cells, in replacing ablated microglia, adopt a microglia-like phenotype in the brain, i.e. with limited phagocytic capacity, likely influenced by local molecular cues . Whether additional signals are needed to boost their phagocytic function in situ requires further investigation.

Adaptive immune cells

B cells in adaptive immunity

T cells in adaptive immunity

Table 2 A-specific T cell subsets regulate AD pathogenesis in experimental modelsTable 3. Treg cells regulate AD pathogenesis in experimental models

Telltale Signs Of Alzheimers Disease

Does Dementia Affect Men and Women Differently?

Many people know about the mental and emotional changes caused by Alzheimers disease, but all of these symptoms are the result of physical changes deep within the body and mind. These changes include brain inflammation caused by clumps of proteins known as amyloids. Localized inflammation is the bodys natural response to these proteins, and it is thought to be one of the causes of Alzheimers disease.

Recommended Reading: How Long Does A Person Live After Being Diagnosed With Alzheimer’s

Widely Used Sedatives/sleeping Pills Linked To Increased Fatal Pneumonia Risk: Benzodiazepines Affect Immune System Study Suggests

BMJ-British Medical Journal
Commonly prescribed sleeping pills/sedatives may increase the risk of contracting pneumonia by as much as 50 percent and increase the risk of dying from it, suggests new research.

Commonly prescribed sleeping pills/sedatives may increase the risk of contracting pneumonia by as much as 50% and increase the risk of dying from it, suggests research published online in the journal Thorax.

Benzodiazepines have a wide range of uses and are commonly prescribed for anxiety, epilepsy, muscle spasm, and insomnia. They are also frequently used in palliative care, as a sedative, and to help those with an alcohol problem to “dry out.”

Around 2% of the population in the UK and the US have taken benzodiazepines for 12 months or more, and among the elderly this prevalence rises to one in 10.

The use of these drugs has been linked to a heightened risk of infections and death from blood poisoning in critically ill patients, and the authors wanted to know if these drugs had a similar impact on the risk of developing fatal pneumonia.

The authors analysed the health records of patients whose details had been entered into the Health Improvement Network database. This contains the records of over 9 million patients registered with various primary care organisations across the UK.

Individually, prescriptions for diazepam, lorazepam and temazepam, but not chlordiazepoxide, were all associated with an increased risk of contracting pneumonia.

Story Source:

The Incidence Of Alzheimers Is Greater In Women

Your chances of developing Alzheimers disease late in life are somewhat greater if you are a woman than a man. One study followed 16,926 people in Sweden and found that, beginning around age 80, women were more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimers disease than men of the same age. Similarly, a study based in Taiwan found that ones chances of developing Alzheimers disease over seven years was greater in women compared to men. And a meta-analysis examining the incidence of Alzheimers disease in Europe found that approximately 13 women out of 1,000 developed Alzheimers each year, compared to only seven men.

So, women living longer than men cannot be the whole answer as to why women are more likely than men to develop Alzheimers disease, because even among individuals who are living and the same age, women are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimers than men.

You May Like: What Are Complications Of Alzheimer Disease That Cause Death

Aging And Immune Function

There are a few different reasons older adults seem to have much weaker immune systems. Even though seniors are exposed to countless germs over the years, the thymus is slowly going to shrink. That unique component of the immune system is responsible for sending out healthy T cells to battle germs, and it cant respond as quickly once it begins to shrink. Its also important to note that the T cells themselves become less efficient with age. With a weaker immune response, a basic cold or flu that could once be overcome within a day or two might take weeks to recover from.

There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to address if their families opt for professional homecare services. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Does Alcohol Weaken The Immune System

Kim Iversen: Some Experts Warn OVER-VAXXING Could Weaken The Immune System

Alcohol abuse can suppress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infections caused by bacteria and viruses which might raise your risk of a bacterial infection such as urinary tract infections . The immune system is complex and made of many cells and proteins that recognize infections and attack them. Often, the immune system takes time to recognize and build up a full response to an infection. This is why when you get an infection, you will often have symptoms that get worse as the infection develops. Then, youll get better as the immune system response becomes strong enough to stop and remove the infection.

Because alcohol can suppress the immune system, the body may take longer to recognize and respond to a developing infection. This can make infection symptoms last longer and become more intense than they would otherwise. In severe cases, the bodys immune system may not be strong enough to overcome the infection. When this occurs, the infection may continue to develop until it becomes dangerous or is treated with antibiotics.

Recommended Reading: Is Lewy Body Dementia Terminal

Clinical Studies Of Immune Dysregulation

The possibility that immune dysfunction is involved in AD was first recognized in Alois Alzheimers original 1907 article, in which he described morphological alterations in glia in autopsy samples from the brains of patients with AD. Colocalization of immune cells with amyloid plaques is now a well-recognized neuropathological feature of AD. More broadly, ageing is characterized by systemic changes to the innate and adaptive immune systems, including thymic involution, chronic expression of circulating pro-inflammatory markers , and senescent cellular phenotypes, which have a senescence-associated secretory profile and release several inflammatory mediators. Although immune system dysregulation was originally considered to be a bystander in pathological ageing processes, genome-wide association studies and clinical research studies have implicated this dysfunction in AD pathogenesis and clinical progression.

In this section, we discuss evidence from human studies that addressed the complexity of the interplay between central and peripheral immune dysfunction and its association with salient clinical outcomes. We focus on this interplay to avoid the false dichotomy of central versus peripheral immune dysregulation. We primarily review the role of peripheral immune regulation in CNS-related outcomes and the tandem appraisal of the peripheral and central immune systems in ageing and AD.

Peripheral inflammation, cognitive decline and dementia

Adaptive immunity in AD

Safety In Nursing Homes

Ellison also urged caregivers to disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Thats particularly critical in long-term care communities such as memory care facilities or nursing homes. The largest outbreak of coronavirus cases in the U.S. so far came from a nursing home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland. Some media outlets are calling that nursing clinic the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

Eight of the 14 total cases in Washington state are linked to that home as well as four of the deaths in the state. And at least four of the six people who died were either elderly or had underlying health conditions or both.

Turner, who has previously run long-term care communities, said that one of the biggest threats to residents of such facilities is the health of visitors. She said that while it is natural to want to check in on your relative or friend, make sure that you are healthy and take all possible precautions before you visit.

If you are coughing or sneezing, please dont visit, she said. If you have a cold, please dont come visit. If you have flu symptoms, please dont come visit.

She adds, even if you are feeling healthier than youve ever felt in your entire life, please wash your hands.

Use the hand sanitizer station at the entrance to the community, she urged. Use the one in the lobby. Use the one in the hall.

Also Check: Alzheimer’s Disease Ribbon Color

They Run A Higher Risk Of Complications

Due to the weakened immune system of patients with Alzheimers disease and Dementia, they are at higher risk of the flu turning into more severe illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis which can be fatal. The flu can cause further behavioural issues in Alzheimers and Dementia patients and therefore require more complex care to help them overcome their illness.

Does Cranberry Juice Help

Reduce the Risk of Dementia

Research has come up with different results on this question. Some studies have found a slight benefit of cranberry juice in reducing the risk of UTIs. Others have not found a difference when cranberry juice was ingested. You should check with your healthcare provider first before adding cranberry juice to your diet on a regular basis because it can interact with other medications such as Coumadin .

You May Like: What Is The Color For Dementia Awareness

What Does This Project Involve

The researchers on this project are hoping to understand more about the role of the immune system in Alzheimer’s disease to find out if there is a way to target the microglia more effectively with treatments. The team have previously used cutting-edge imaging techniques in fruit flies that have shown that immune cells will travel to areas of the brain where the amyloid protein is present. It is thought that the microglia travel to the amyloid in order to remove it from the brain, but if they become overactive they may end up damaging the brain cell in the process. The researchers will therefore use this imaging technique to understand how the cells travel during the disease process and what the relationship is between the microglia and the amyloid protein. They will then unpick the genetic and molecular aspects that control this behaviour.

What Do We Already Know

There is an increasing amount of evidence that the underlying mechanisms behind Alzheimer’s disease may begin years or even decades before symptoms start to show. Many researchers believe that treating those affected at the earliest stage possible will be the most effective way of slowing down the disease or stopping its progression.

The brain’s immune system has long been implicated as a key factor in the development of Alzheimers disease, particularly a specialised type of immune cell called microglia. The microglia help to clear debris and toxic materials from the brain. However, it appears that in Alzheimer’s they do not perform this function correctly or may even contribute directly to the disease process. One theory is that the Alzheimers hallmark amyloid protein activates the microglia, which perform their function properly at first but as more amyloid is produced the system becomes overwhelmed and unregulated. This leads to damage to brain cells.

Some trials for potential Alzheimer’s disease treatments have attempted to prevent the damaging immune response but so far results have been disappointing. This could be because the drugs are broadly targeting the whole immune system rather than just the faulty microglia.

Read Also: Alzheimers Dement

How Does Alzheimers Affect The Brain

A healthy brain contains billions of neurons, which are specialized cells that process and transmit information between different parts of the brain to the muscles and organs of the body via electrical and chemical signals . Alzheimers disease disrupts this communication. This ultimately results in loss of function and cell death.

The brain typically shrinks to some degree as a person ages, but it doesnt actually lose neurons in large numbers. In Alzheimers disease the damage is larger. Neurons stop functioning and lose connection with other neurons affecting communication.

It first starts with destroying neurons that are involved in memory and eventually affects areas in the brain responsible for language, reasoning and social behavior. Overtime, a person may lose his or her ability to live and function independently.

People with Alzheimers may also experience vascular problems that may lead to reduced blood flow and oxygen to the brain. This results in inflammation which adds further vascular problems.

Cells Of The Immune System Implicated In High Blood Pressure

Lewy Body Dementias and the Immune System with David Gate, PhD

Brain perivascular macrophages promote cognitive dysfunction in hypertension. Image credit: Dr. Giuseppe Faraco

High blood pressure transforms cells of the immune system that reside around cerebral blood vessels and normally protect the brain into agents of cognitive decline, according to new research from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists.

A cellular-level understanding of hypertensions effect on the brain has previously eluded researchers and presented a stumbling block in the development of innovative treatments for patients who are in the early stages of vascular cognitive impairment, a form of mental decline that occurs as a result of impaired blood flow to the brain. Now, in their study, published Nov. 14 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers have successfully isolated the molecular pathways by which hypertension causes immune cells known as perivascular macrophages to undermine the proper delivery of blood to different parts of the brain in response to its moment-to-moment needs.

We show for the first time that PVMs can be implicated in the deleterious effects of hypertension on the brain, said Dr. Giuseppe Faraco, an assistant professor of neuroscience in the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine and lead author of the study. Specifically, we demonstrate the damaging effects of PVMs on cerebral blood vessels.

Also Check: Alzheimer’s Awareness Ribbon

Aging Changes In Immunity

Your immune system helps protect your body from foreign or harmful substances. Examples are bacteria, viruses, toxins, cancer cells, and blood or tissues from another person. The immune system makes cells and antibodies that destroy these harmful substances.


As you grow older, your immune system does not work as well. The following immune system changes may occur:

  • The immune system becomes slower to respond. This increases your risk of getting sick. Flu shots or other vaccines may not work as well or protect you for as long as expected.
  • An autoimmune disorder may develop. This is a disease in which the immune system mistakenly attacks and damages or destroys healthy body tissues.
  • Your body may heal more slowly. There are fewer immune cells in the body to bring about healing.
  • The immune system’s ability to detect and correct cell defects also declines. This can result in an increased risk of cancer.


To decrease the risks from immune system aging:

  • Get vaccines to prevent the flu, shingles, and pneumococcal infections, as well as any other vaccines your health care provider recommends.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Exercise helps boost your immune system.
  • Eat healthy foods. Good nutrition keeps your immune system strong.
  • DO NOT smoke. Smoking weakens your immune system.


Most Popular