Critter Corner: Are Ticks Especially Dangerous for Seniors?

Dear Baxter,

My grandfather insists on taking my brother and me camping every year. My mother has Lyme Disease, so she is very aware of how it spreads, and protects us with natural repellants. My grandfather throws caution to the wind, and won’t use sprays and wears shorts. Are tick bites especially dangerous for seniors, and how can he protect and check himself?

Cam Pingg


Dear Cam,

Ticks may be tiny, but they carry big threats for humans, and can be especially dangerous for seniors.

According to a report in the Journal of Medical Entomology, seniors are among the most vulnerable demographic when it comes to tick bites. This season, health experts have said that the tick populations are coming out particularly strong. They’ve been able to spread farther, invading new areas and thriving in places they haven’t been seen before. As ticks continue to expand their reaches, so do the diseases that they carry, and the number of people who have been infected steadily climbs.

Because seniors often have weaker immune systems, they face an especially high risk from tick bites. Lyme disease in particular, which is often not fatal in young adults, can be deadly for seniors or mistaken for other diseases with similar symptoms, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

The best way to avoid getting Lyme disease is to fight the risks for tick bites. Your grandfather needs to take precautions when going out into areas that are likely to be tick infested. He should wear long sleeves and pants whenever possible and use a bug spray or natural tick repellent. After coming back inside, he should check his clothes, hair, and skin for the parasites.

Pet owners need to be especially careful, because dogs and cats can carry ticks inside the home. Domestic animals, such as myself, should be treated with a tick repellent and checked when they come indoors as well.

If seniors find ticks on themselves, they should immediately check for bites. Even if they aren’t sure they’ve been bitten, if they think they might have been they should seek medical attention.

Hope this is helpful,


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