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Senior Health Issues
What are some of the typical health
issues facing aging and older individuals?
Aging is not so much a matter of the passage of time as of
changes in fitness, in the way your body works and reacts.
If your body changes enough that you look, feel, and function
differently than when you were younger, age may be overtaking
you. The earliest and most obvious signs include men losing
their hair and men and women needing reading glasses because
of presbyopia (inability to focus on near objects). But diseases
have a greater impact on how your body functions than does
aging alone. Therefore, staying fit and healthy is an important
part of keeping your body operating as if it were still young.
If you are lucky enough never to get arthritis, osteoporosis,
type 2 diabetes, cancer, hardening of the arteries, high blood
pressure, cataracts, Parkinson's disease or Alzheimer's, you'll
feel younger, longer. This may sound like "if you don't get
sick, you'll feel well." Yet the point is an important one
that must be considered when we think about what aging really
means. People may be more prone to such ailments as they get
older, but just because you get older doesn't mean you will
experience all the symptoms associated with these and other
diseases. Although the disease process and the aging process
may run concurrently, they are not the same thing. You can
get sick and even die from many diseases common to old age,
but you don't have to get old to have such diseases. And if
you maintain an optimal level of wellness, you should be able
to get older without automatically and inescapably being condemned
to the pain, discomfort and disabilities associated with many
disease states. Growing old and getting sick simply are not
interchangeable or even inextricably linked processes.
It is true that older people are more likely than the young
to get certain diseases, and older individuals may have several
different health problems at the same time. But more and more
people are living longer and staying healthier--and happier--as
they get older. The key is to gain control over your health
as early in your life as possible. Learning how to stay well
will give you a better chance of feeling well, longer.
The increasing numbers of seniors is attributable, in part,
to the growing reliance on health care that stresses lifelong
wellness, proper diet and adequate exercise (which are all
mainstays of chiropractic care). We all hope cures are found
for such scourges as cancer, heart disease and AIDS. But for
you, as an individual, such cures may have little direct impact
on your quality of life as you live day by day through your
seventies, eighties and nineties.
Living long and being vigorous and vital means maintaining
overall physical and emotional wellness. It means functioning
at as high a level as possible, with physical and mental functions
diminished only moderately, if at all. Most older individuals
are more concerned about their diet and digestion than about
what disease may ultimately strike them down. They worry more
about sleeping well, seeing and hearing adequately, looking
good, having a reasonably active sex life, controlling their
weight, experiencing as little pain as possible, maintaining
their mental acuity, not being depressed, and remaining active
and independent. These are all, to varying degrees, reliant
on your musculoskeletal health.
It is imperative that you do all you can to protect yourself
from degeneration, illness and accidents that can rob you
of many additional years of healthy and happy living. If the
joints, muscles and nerves that make up your musculoskeletal
system aren't kept functioning properly, you may be jeopardizing
your overall health and well-being. Chiropractic is designed
to maximize musculoskeletal health so that you can feel better
over the entire course of a long life.
What can chiropractic do?
Dynamic Chiropractic's gerontology columnist, Barbara
Zapotocky, has confidently asserted that: "Chiropractors
are the best suited and positioned health care professionals
to care for an aging population." This isn't an overstatement,
because chiropractic is a health care system that for more
than a century has been devoted to conservative care that
features minimal intervention and limits on costly hospitalization
and potentially dangerous and disruptive medications. Most
of all, doctors of chiropractic are trained in maintaining
wellness by gentle, reassuring, safe and effective techniques
and counseling that can play a role in suspending or reversing
the aging process. Chiropractic is as committed to anti-aging
as it is to pain relief.
Chiropractors realize that aging and older patients require
special assessment of their problems, with support, treatment
and management goals tailored to their unique health situation
and needs. Moreover, chiropractic is especially useful in
restoring and maintaining joint, muscle, nerve and soft tissue
health, which is fundamental to keeping older people fit and
flexible, feeling good and functioning at their highest potential.
Chiropractic clinicians regularly counsel their patients
on how to employ flexibility and weight-bearing exercise for
better health, They offer guidance on how diet and supplements
combine to provide health-sustaining and life-prolonging nutrition.
They can help you control your weight, your blood pressure
and your cholesterol level, help you prevent or cope with
osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Chiropractic adjustments are well suited to safely and effectively
addressing and preventing a wide range of problems encountered
by the elderly. More and more aging men and women rely on
doctors of chiropractic to remove some of the underlying skeletal
and muscular causes of the distress, debilitation and depression
that plagues so many older individuals. Chiropractors have
the skills to reduce pain and infirmity, give even older patients
greater mobility, more robust good health, and a more-confident
expectation that the future can encompass many more fulfilling
years of functioning better--and feeling younger.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Senior's Health
Articles on Senior Health Issues
Killinger LZ, Trauma in the geriatric patient: A chiropractic
perspective with a focus on prevention. Topics in Clinical
Chiropractic, 1998; vol. 5, no. 3, pp10-15.
AGS Panel on Chronic Pain in Older Persons. The management
of chronic pain in older persons. Journal of American Geriatric
Society, 1998; vol. 46, pp635-51.
Mazzeo RS, Cavanaugh P, et al. Exercise and physical
activity for older adults. Medicine & Science in Sports
& Exercise, June 1998; vol. 30, no. 6, pp992-8.
Hawk C, Killinger LZ, et al. Chiropractic training
in care of the geriatric patient: An assessment. Journal
of the Neuromusculoskeletal System, Spring 1997; vol.
5, no. 1, pp15-25.
Klatz R, Goldman R. Stopping the Clock. New
Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1996.
Gottlieb MS. Conservative management of spinal osteoarthritis
with glucosamine sulfate and chiropractic treatment. Journal
of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 1997;
vol.20, no. 6, pp400-14.
Swezey R. Exercise for osteoporosis--Is walking enough?:
The case for site-specific and resistive exercise. Spine,
1996; vol. 21, no. 23, pp2809-13.
Fisher NM, Pendergast DR. Reduced muscle function in
patients with osteoarthritis, Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation
Medicine, 1997; vol.29, pp213-21.
Perle SM, Mutell DB, Romanelli R. Age-related changes
in skeletal muscle strength and modifications through exercise:
A literature review. Journal of Sports Chiropractic,
Sept. 1997; vol. 11, no. 3, pp97-103.
Quinn K, Basu TK. Folate and vitamin B12 status of
the elderly. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition,
1996; vol. 50, pp340-42.