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Could grief affect the immune system of senior citizens?

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Posted at 3:01 PM, Sep 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-19 15:01:49-04

For the elderly, grief can be not just an emotional experience but also a physically damaging one. Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the U.K. found that age changes how the body's immune system responds to grief.

They found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation.

The study states around age 30 an important stress hormone called DHEAS begins to decline, and the elderly only have about 20 percent of the DHEAS they did when they were younger.

Researchers think this shortage of hormones might be what causes the immune system to respond so negatively to stressful situations. In this case, we mean the development of infections as a result of a weakened immune system.

Find out more with this Newsy video.