December 8, 2023

Can you Develop Allergies Later In Life?


As we age, our immune system undergoes changes, which can make us more susceptible to developing allergies. This process, known as immunosenescence, can make managing allergies in older adults challenging given they can arise at any time. While any allergen can cause an allergic reaction, there are some allergies that are more common in seniors.

allergies in seniors

Food allergies:

While it is commonly thought that food allergies only affect children, adults can also develop food allergies later in life. According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), around 20% of adults have food allergies. These numbers are increasing every year, and experts are still not sure why. The most common food allergens in older adults are shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, fish, and eggs.

Food allergies

It is important to ensure seniors have EpiPens available and do not keep anaphylaxis-inducing foods in the house. Clients with cognitive degeneration may need assistance with shopping to ensure they do not accidentally purchase these allergens.

Medication allergies:

Older adults tend to take more medications than younger people, which increases their risk of developing medication allergies. Common medications that can cause allergic reactions include:

  • Penicillin and related antibiotics
  • Antibiotics containing sulfonamides (sulfa drugs)
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Opioids

It is important to discuss all medication reactions with trusted health professionals, including your GP and pharmacist.

Medication allergies

Environmental allergies:

Environmental allergens are common triggers for allergies in people of all ages. However, in seniors, these allergens can cause more severe respiratory issues, particularly in those with weakened immune systems. Exposure to these allergens can exacerbate conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Common environmental allergens include:

  • Pollen: Pollen is a common allergen that can come from trees, grasses, and flowers.
  • Dust mites: Dust mites are tiny insects that are commonly found in bedding, upholstery, and carpets.
  • Mould: Mould is a type of fungus that can grow in damp or humid environments, such as bathrooms or basements.
  • Animal dander: Animal dander refers to the tiny skin flakes and saliva that pets shed.
  • Cockroaches: Cockroaches are a common household pest, and their tiny poop can trigger allergic reactions in some people.

Although it is hard to control the weather, regular cleaning of the home and keeping a decluttered space can help to mitigate the effects of environmental allergies.

As a home care provider, it’s important to be aware of the most common allergies that can develop in seniors and be ready to help. Every client at Home Care Assistance Newcastle has a specialised care plan to ensure their care meets their needs. Our dedicated Care Managers note all of their clients’ needs, concerns and risks at home, including allergies. We work closely with healthcare providers to ensure appropriate treatment can be accessed by our clients and try to mitigate triggers in the home with regular cleaning and meal preparation services. By managing allergies effectively at home, seniors can live safely and happily in place.


Reach Out Today

For a bit of guidance or immediate help, we’re here for Novocastrian seniors in search for quality aged care to support them in the next chapter of their lives.