• Question: Why does it take older people to recover from illnesses longer than younger?

    Asked by Afaf to Carolyn, Peter, Richard, Sara, Siana on 18 Nov 2015. This question was also asked by lozza, _rubyyy1234_.
    • Photo: Carolyn Nielsen

      Carolyn Nielsen answered on 18 Nov 2015:

      Hi Afaf,

      This a really interesting area of research, and obviously really important as countries have an increasing number of elderly people!

      The short answer to this is that as get older, our immune systems age as well. One of the changes that takes place is that many of our immune cells become less sensitive to signals from other immune cells, and so they tend to respond less strongly during infection. The scientific word for this is immunosenescence. This may mean they don’t control the infection as quickly, and so they take longer overall to recover.

    • Photo: Richard Unwin

      Richard Unwin answered on 20 Nov 2015:

      HI Afaf,

      I guess this is because our body is generally slower at everything as wet older. our immune system doesn’t work so well and it takes longer for us to repair injuries because the cells that do this job are either lower in number (some have dies off and not been replaced) or aren’t as efficient as when they were ‘young’.