Immunosenescence is the aging of the immune system. Immunosenescence is very common for those older than 65 years of age. In the flu season, this age group is the most vulnerable to the flu viruses. Even worse when comorbidity such as pneumonia and stroke hit on these people. Pneumococcus vaccination as well as influenza vaccination is strongly advised for this group.
What can we do about immunosenescence?
I am a scientist and used to work at the geriatrics division of department of medicine at UBC. The lowered levels of immunity in the elderly needs boosters (adjuvant) to enhance the immune response to flu virus. What I did was to try different boosters in order to find the best for the older human beings. To add certain kind of chemical adjuvant into the vaccine can only boost the immune response to the specific virus, with the goal of protecting from further flu-related complications. However, these adjuvant doesn’t work for other kinds of microbial that our body need to protect against. Say, for herpes we need to add a different adjuvant in the herpes vaccine to boost the immune response to herpes.
Medically, that is all we can do to fight immunosenescence. But there are certain group of elderly that their immunity is superman/superwoman. When we check their immune response in vivo or in vitro, their immunity is just like the youth. They are the centenarians. There is some reason that they live up to one hundreds years of age. Phenotypically, their immunity doesn’t seem to be consistent to their age at all: there is no immunosenescence in these folks.
For us common people, during the cold seasons we can enhance our innate immunity by exercising and diet modifications. In order to fight immunosenescence, we need to get the most from our daily activities by exercising and building up a stronger immune system with optimal diet. Integrative medicine uses everything around the mechanism of immunosenescence to fight against it. Traditionally medicine uses ancient wisdoms to protect our body. It was found that centenarians have good family traditions of healthy living; therefore both genetics and life style are keys in fighting immunosenescence.