Can Seniors Donate Blood?

June 26, 2023

Blood donors, especially those who donate regularly, keep our nation's blood supply stable. Although many people donate blood after disasters, blood is needed every day of the year. There is no substitute for blood. Donors provide the only supply of life-saving blood for those in need.

While people often think that with older age comes a decline in the quality of life, this doesn’t always have to be the case. People in the senior age category (adults aged 65 or older),  can still donate blood, there are just some extra conditions that follow. In fact, most blood donors are proud to have been able to serve their community throughout the course of their lives, and under the right conditions should be able to continue donating blood well into their later years. 

Donors of any age are required to meet eligibility criteria based on health, wellness and lifestyle. However, when it comes to seniors and donating blood, there are always some precautions that must be taken. It’s okay to have concerns about the well-being of our loved ones that want to  start or continue to donate blood.  Follow along as we break down the precautions seniors can take when donating blood, and the restrictions some can face if they wish to continue. 

Blood donation requirements:

Before scheduling a donation appointment, here are some of the requirements to expect for senior blood donors:

  • Weight: Although there isn’t an age limit to blood donations, there is definitely a weight requirement in place to ensure donors remain healthy after the procedure. The minimum weight for someone to donate blood is 110 pounds. Those under the weight requirement may not be able to comfortably withstand losing the amount of blood that’s taken out with each donation. If someone donates while underweight, the chances are high that they will faint during the process. If this happens, the technician will quickly lay the donor back to raise their feet and remove the needle.
  • General Health: Being in good health before giving blood is essential, so if the donor has recently experienced an illness like the flu or a cold, they’ll be deferred from giving blood this time around. If they don’t there is a possibility that the illness can quickly return or symptoms will worsen. Although most people can shrug off the common cold or virus, seniors can face life-threatening complications when prolonged or recurring illnesses arise.
  • Individual Requirements: Some states and blood banks may have their own individual requirements for elderly community members who wish to donate. For example, some associations may require a doctor’s note that ensures the patient’s good health before donating blood. Some may even impose their own age limitations. 

The New York Blood Center (NYBC) says once a donor reaches the age of 75, they must obtain a note from their primary physician stating that they are in good health to donate. Once this note is documented by NYBC when a donor presents to give blood, they can continue to donate with no upper age limit.

Donor ineligibility:

There are a few circumstances that could temporarily (or permanently) prevent someone from being able to give blood. These include:

  • Not feeling well for any reason
  • Travel to an area of the world where malaria is a problem
  • Certain types of heart disease
  • Recent Ears, nose or skin piercing
  • Recent tattoos (depending on the state the tattoo was done)
  • Recent Pregnancy, abortion or miscarriage
  • Surgery, serious injury
  • Syphilis, gonorrhea
  • Have had certain forms of cancer
  • Recent Blood transfusion
  • Illicit drug use, especially with a needle
  • Certain medications including some antibiotics, some blood thinners and others. 

Most of these restrictions require a short deferral time before being able to safely donate again. If any of the above applies or there are other questions a donor may have it is better to call the local blood center to confirm one’s eligibility beforehand. At the same time, ask about whether they have any age restrictions or requirements for donors over 65.

Regarding age restrictions:

Whether age restricts them or not, there are multiple ways that seniors can stay involved in the donation process. Instead of donating blood themselves, there are several other things that older loved ones can do to support their favorite cause. The New York Blood Center suggests a few ways to get involved without giving blood:

  • Encourage their friends and family to find a local donor center to give blood regularly
  • Help recruit blood donations in their area and promoting upcoming blood drives
  • Volunteer by greeting and registering donors as they arrive at a donor center
  • Donate money to support the New York Blood Center research

In conclusion:

Seniors have just as much right to donate blood as anyone else. In fact, they are encouraged to for as long as they can. Should a situation suddenly arise once the donor is over 65 and can't donate, there are still ways seniors can keep this cause close to their heart. If you are concerned about your ability to donate or a loved one’s ability, True Care is happy to connect you with a professional that can discuss eligibility and health precautions. Contact us today for all your loved one’s care needs.

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