Pathological Conditions in Older Adults
As one goes through the natural aging process, the body’s capacity to defend itself against infections diminishes. The immune system’s ability to offer protection is reduced, and the individual becomes susceptible to conditions that affect them more than other age groups (Haynes, 2020). This population also experiences other symptoms impairing other aspects of their lives as time passes. For instance, their skin and bones lose their integrity and become more prone to abrasions and breakage. This assignment module will examine the pathological conditions that affect the sexual response in older adults and how and why nutritional and psychological factors, drugs, and other alternative and complementary medications affect the immune system of the populations.
Pathological Conditions that Affect Sexual Response in Older Adults
Sexuality is an essential aspect of life, irrespective of the age group one is inâ€”the older population and the younger generation alike need to explore sexuality to maintain health and well-being. Exploring sexuality is also a mixture of biological, psychological, social, and religious factors, all of which have plenty to do with aging. Among the pathological conditions that affect sexual response in the elderly include
Genitourinary Syndrome of Menopause
These are the changes experienced in the genitourinary pathway as one age. The individual can feel a burning sensation, dryness, or irritation. This can lead to painful sexual encounters, which can, in turn, reduce their desire to engage and their response.
This is a degenerative disorder of the mental faculties, predominantly among the elderly (National Institute on Aging, n.d.). Their judgment diminishes, making them disinterested or utterly unaware of their sexual experiences. Some forms of the condition have been shown to increase sex or closeness, but the individual may fail to recognize what is appropriate and what is not.
As a chronic condition experienced mainly by this population, it can lead to yeast generation, leading to itchiness around the sex organs, making sex unpalatable. The situation can, however, be addressed with medication.
This is a condition where one experiences bladder leakage caused by poor control (National Institute on Aging, n.d.). It is most prevalent among the population and can lead to diminished sex drive. It can, however, also be addressed with medication.
Nutrition, Psychologic, Drugs, and Complementary and Alternative Medicationâ€™s Influence on the Immune System
As the population ages, some aspects they go through include isolation and loneliness brought on by not belonging to the younger age groups. They also become more dependent on their loved ones or caregivers for food, healthcare services, and other needs. When this care is not meticulously monitored, the individual can deteriorate even further, making them frailer and generally unhealthy. Proper nutrition through food is the primary source of life, which can significantly increase their immune systemâ€™s capacity to defend their health. Food from fruits like oranges that are rich in vitamin C is essential to the immune system (Childs et al., 2019). Vegetables, proteins, and fiber-rich food have been shown to stimulate an individualâ€™s immune cells.
Medical and alternative interventions also have plenty of upsides for an individual in their old age. From medication that helps with loss of appetite to multivitamins, the individualâ€™s immune system can be better boosted to protect the system. A key aspect of medical interventions is fighting off infections and bacteria and diminishing their capacity to multiply. This, in turn, helps the immune system fend for itself with ease and keep the elderly safe. Vaccines also work splendidly, especially for the elderly, ensuring they are better equipped to fight off an infection they would otherwise struggle to fend off. Psychological intervention for the elderly has also been effective in bolstering the immune system (Abdurachman & Herawati, 2018). Maintaining a balance in oneâ€™s psychological well-being was proven to have immune impacts for an individual that, in turn, helps them better depend on their health.
Age brings with it a host of issues that decrease the body’s functionalities that once were. From decreased cognitive capacity through conditions like dementia to diminished sex drive, age can feel like one’s body is turning on them. It is thus all the more imperative to observe one’s health throughout one’s life, especially at this stage, to ensure that one is strong and can lead relatively full lives even at that age. One needs to observe all aspects of their health, from physical to psychological, as coordination of all these aspects is critical to overall well-being, especially as one age. This assignment module investigated the pathological conditions that affect the sexual response in older adults and how and why nutritional and psychological factors, drugs, and other alternative and complementary medications affect the immune system of the populations.
Abdurachman, & Herawati, N. (2018). The role of psychological well-being in boosting immune response: An optimal effort for tackling infection.Â Â African Journal of Infectious Diseases,Â Â 12(1 Suppl), 54. https://doi.org/10.2101/AJID.12V1S.7
Childs, C. E., Calder, P. C., & Miles, E. A. (2019). Diet and immune function.Â Â Nutrients,Â Â 11(8). https://doi.org/10.3390/NU11081933
Haynes, L. (2020). Aging of the immune system: Research challenges to enhance the health span of older adults.Â Â Frontiers in Aging,Â Â 0, 2. https://doi.org/10.3389/FRAGI.2020.602108
National Institute on Aging. (n.d.).Â Â Sexuality and intimacy in older adults.Â https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/sexuality-and-intimacy-older-adults
St. Thomas University
NUR 417 AP2
Prof. Yedelis Diaz
Effects of Pathological Conditions
Erens et al. (2019) posit that sexual expression contributes to health and well-being, promotes self-esteem, and maintains relationships, making it important throughout the life course. However, society continues to witness an age-related decrease in sexual satisfaction and activity, leading to the conclusion that sexual expression changes with an increase in age. According to Lecture Notes (Slide 2), nurses are responsible for assessing disabling drugs and medical conditions, as well as age-related changes affecting older adultsâ€™ sexual lives, and intervene at an early point. The effectiveness of the interventions depends on an understanding of the contributing factors. On the contrary, most nurses share in societyâ€™s prejudice and negative attitudes toward the asexuality of older adults, which is a barrier to the effectiveness of the interventions they provide (Lecture Notes, Slide 5). Hence, there is a need for nurses to be aware of and understand the importance of sexuality among older adults.
Pathological factors are the primary contributors to decreased sexual activity and satisfaction among older adults. They include dementia, malignancies, and human immunodeficiency virus (Lecture Notes, Slide 8). Dementia affects sexuality by causing changes in cognition and judgment. Malignancies include colon, prostate, and breast cancer, whose toll on the health and well-being of older adults causes sexual inhibition or a decrease in sexuality. Lastly is HIV, which affects about 45% of the older adult population above 55 years (Lecture Notes, Slide 8). Since it is mostly diagnosed late, older adults progress quickly, thereby reducing their interests and chances of engaging in sexual activity. Hence, nurses who serve this population must be vigilant in assessing these pathological conditions and providing appropriate interventions to enhance their sexuality, which, in turn, will improve their health outcomes.
On the other hand, nutritional factors, psychological factors, drugs, and alternative and complementary medications affect the immune systems of older adults by attacking their innate response mechanisms that act as the first line of defense against pathogens. Akha (2018) states that this outcome manifests in the prevalence of constitutive low-grade inflammation and autoimmunity, diminished response to vaccination, and decreased ability to fight infection. For instance, nutritional factors, such as malnutrition, could expose older adults to sarcopenia, which refers to a decline in skeletal muscle as a result of insufficient dietary protein, neuromuscular changes, reduced levels of testosterone and growth hormone, disuse of muscles, and physical inactivity (Lecture Notes, Slide 7).
Drugs, as well as complementary and alternative medications, also affect the immune system of older adults immensely. Akha (2018) provides an example of chemotherapeutic drugs used to treat patients with cancer. The impact of such medications has led to the development of evaluation criteria referred to as immune-related response criteria (irCR). The evaluation criteria reveal the expansion of immune-related adverse effects of chemotherapeutic drugs, such as autoimmunity and immunotoxicity (Akha, 2018). The adverse effects of chemotherapeutic drugs are mediated by age-related immune system changes and comorbidities, which significantly lower the ability of the immune system to defend against other pathogens. In other words, nutritional, psychological, and medication-related factors affect the immune system of older adults by cumulatively attacking its response criteria. The occurrence of these factors at the same time, which is common among older adults, compromises the immune system and its ability to fight illnesses. The result is more comorbidities that increase hospital visits by the population. Nurses must be aware of the interplay between these factors and offer effective interventions to provide better care.
Akha, A. A. S. (2018). Aging and the immune system: An overview.Â Â Journal of immunological methods,Â Â 463, 21-26.
Erens, B., Mitchell, K. R., Gibson, L., Datta, J., Lewis, R., Field, N., & Wellings, K. (2019). Health status, sexual activity and satisfaction among older people in Britain: A mixed methods study.Â Â PloS one,Â Â 14(3), e0213835.
Lecture Notes. (n.d.).Â Â Chapter 12: Sexuality and Aging.
Lecture Notes. (n.d.).Â Â Chapter 9: Nutrition.
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