As a nation, we’re getting older. Studies estimate that nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be age 65 or older by 2030. But just because we’re getting older, doesn’t mean that we have to feel older.
Our aging population faces unique challenges. Many changes take place as we get older: our muscles, spinal discs, facet joints and ligaments become less hydrated, weaker and less able to withstand normal stresses. For many older people, these changes can result in pain, as well as reduced strength and range of motion. In addition to suffering from chronic pain, seniors often become more susceptible to injuries and falls as their bones become more brittle and their balance and coordination begin to deteriorate. So, what can chiropractic offer older people?
As it turns out, chiropractic care is not only safe for the vast majority of seniors, it’s also a well-suited medical treatment for the kinds of health problems that an aging population experiences. Let’s take a look at the seven life-changing benefits of chiropractic care for older people.
- Safe, customized and cost-effective alternative for older people
A typical senior may be dealing with multiple diagnoses, taking several medications on a daily basis and suffering fear and anxiety about his/her health. Luckily, chiropractic care can be tailored to each senior’s unique needs. For example, according to Dr. Hawk, some older people may suffer from “cognitive issues, depression, substance use issues, or other factors that make their care complex.” This is especially important in geriatric care. Luckily, chiropractors are well-suited to look holistically at a senior’s medical history and situation.
For example, if a patient is suffering from lower back pain – a common complaint in the elderly – a chiropractor can look to soothe pain, increase flexibility and suggest an anti-inflammatory diet with all-natural and non-disruptive strategies, while assuring that no other serious conditions are present.
As a result, chiropractic care is also safe for older people. By looking for natural and holistic care that goes to the root of the problem, chiropractic care is ideal. In the case of back pain, instead of taking painkillers for symptoms, the patient can strengthen muscles and reduce stiffness to truly improve instead of getting a band-aid solution. In many cases, chiropractic is also the most effective option for care. For example, spinal manipulative therapy (SMT) is considered an effective treatment for back pain, which can help prevent more invasive techniques like surgery.
Lastly, chiropractic care is a cost-effective alternative. With rising healthcare costs for the elderly since 1965, older people are facing greater challenges over how to pay for their care. In this way, chiropractic care is a great option to cut down on costs, while also providing quality care that can change a senior’s life for the better.
- Pain relief
Takeaway: Fewer painkillers and drug side effects
One of the best benefits of chiropractic care is resolving chronic pain. Older people suffer often suffer chronic pain, whether from underlying conditions or aging processes. Because chiropractic care looks to relieve pressure from vertebrae, reduce inflammation and “help the body heal itself,” older people can look to chiropractic care for pain relief with lasting effects. In addition, this care can help seniors who take multiple drugs a day, since they might not need to add painkillers into the mix. This is good news for older people who want try natural therapies for their pain and avoid drug side effects.
- Increased range of motion
Takeaway: Improved wellness, including hobbies and independence
Chiropractic care can also increase a senior’s range of motion. Through the therapeutic role of touch, chiropractors restore position, motion and blood flow to areas, which can improve mobility over time. With increased range of motion, older people will see improved wellness in their daily lives. Activities and hobbies such as taking a swim class, playing with grandchildren or going shopping can stay within reach after improving range of motion. This benefit may also have the secondary effect of helping seniors enrich their lives with new social activities as well.
- Increased balance and coordination
Takeaway: Decreased incidence of falling
As we get older, we also lose our sense of balance, coordination and flexibility. This means that the incidence of injuries and falling increases. However, with chiropractic care, a senior’s balance can improve by fixing misalignments or relieving injury pain. By making sure the body is well-aligned and motion is maximized, older people can boost their balance and prevent falls.
- Less invasive techniques
Takeaway: Decreased lower back pain without surgery or disruption to life
Chiropractic care is also a safe, non-surgical approach to spinal care, free of both invasive procedures and potentially dangerous medications. Chiropractors use proven, gentle techniques of adjustment, manipulation and stretching to realign displaced joints and muscles. These techniques are safe and non-invasive. For seniors, they are ideal to avoid disruptions to their lives or risky medical procedures with long recovery times.
For example, one recent study compared two types of chiropractic manipulation in 240 men and women over the age of 55: high-velocity low amplitude manipulations versus low-velocity variable amplitude manipulations. The researchers found that the chiropractic techniques produced superior results in relieving chronic lower back pain when compared to traditional conservative medical care. Not only was chiropractic care found to be more effective in relieving lower back pain, the researchers also concluded that the two approaches were equally useful.
Non-invasive techniques like chiropractors are ideal for elderly patients who have choices when it comes to their treatment.
- Fielding medical “red flags”
Takeaway: Other conditions may found by professionals in time
Another benefit of regular chiropractic sessions is that chiropractors can potentially field other geriatric conditions that they see. If a patient is experiencing certain symptoms, or the chiropractor suspects stroke symptoms or other medical emergencies, he/she can get the patient to the medical professionals he/she needs. Working with chiropractor experts is great to guarantee that other medical “red flags” will be seen and professionally handled. In this way, serious conditions can be found by professionals in time.
- Holistic expertise in nutrition and home care
Takeaway: Improved wellness that prevents nursing home care
It’s also important to remember that chiropractic care isn’t limited to spinal adjustments. Modern chiropractic focuses on improving the patient’s overall state of health and wellbeing in addition to addressing specific problems. Most chiropractors today can offer advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle choices tailored to the specific needs of their patients. By giving patients information on holistic care, patients will find new energy through a special diet, as well as home care tips for pain between chiropractic sessions. This has the secondary benefit of improving patient’s quality of life, meaning new possible hobbies and independence, which is ideal for preventing the need of nursing home care in the future.
Safe, effective chiropractic care plays a key role in restoring and/or maintaining spinal function. It can also help promote general health, mobility, endurance and vitality at any age. If you have questions about whether chiropractic care is right for you or someone close to you, please contact a chiropractor near you or visit Chiropractor Anchorage.
About Dr. Brent Wells
Dr. Brent Wells is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in 1998. He became passionate about being a chiropractor after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.