As more information about the benefits of complementary and
alternative medicine (CAM) is published, more people are turning
to CAM as a safe, natural form of healing. This is particularly
true of the elderly population: Studies have consistently
shown that nearly half of all adults over the age of 65 use
some form of CAM on a regular basis, particularly to relieve
pain or help stay fit.
results of a study published in a recent issue of the Journal
of Gerontological Nursing are typical of other surveys
on CAM use in the elderly. In the study, 42 participants (average
age: 77.9 years) completed a questionnaire on their use of
and reasons for using CAM; some subjects also participated
in an interview session.
Seventy-three percent of the participants reported using
some form of CAM. Chiropractic was the most commonly used
therapy among elderly patients (61.9 percent), followed by
herbal medicine (54.8 percent), massage therapy (35.7 percent)
and acupuncture (33.3 percent). Among the reasons for using
CAM therapies, 54.8 percent used CAM for pain relief; 45.2
percent used CAM to improve quality of life; and 40.5 percent
used CAM to maintain health and fitness.
These findings show that CAM use is alive and well in the
elderly population. The authors of the study suggest increased
education about CAM is needed for older adults and health
professionals, and that CAM practitioners should try to understand
why older people choose these therapies and play an active
role in educating them about alternative forms of care.
Williamson AT, Fletcher PC, Dawson KA. Complementary
and alternative medicine. Use in an older population. Journal
of Gerontological Nursing May 2003: Volume 29, Number
Learn more about issues affecting senior health at www.chiroweb.com/find/archives/senior.