As we age, our bodies handle medicines and medical treatments (i.e., surgery) differently than when we were young. This is partly a result of our aging bodies increase in body fat and decrease in body water content and lean body mass. The aging population also begins to use more and more medications at the same time in their lives that they tend to be most vulnerable to the adverse affects from these drugs.
An Ohio State University Study stated that “70 percent of older Americans turn to alternative medicines to treat their health problems.” (Healthy Alternatives for the Elderly, M. Sottosanti, Associated Content).
What are some of those alternative sources?
A well-known source of alternative medicine is the use of herbs and nutritional supplements. For example, we know that as we age our hearts become weaker and often require a boost from some form of medication for high blood pressure, heart disease, etc. An alternative to these prescribed medications could be the use of omega 3 capsules (fish oil), known to not only aid in the lowering of blood pressure, but also helping build a strong heart and vascular system.
Eastern medicine has offered the West the use of acupuncture – a means of controlling the flow of energy in the body. This treatment is primarily considered non-invasive in nature (even though very thin needles are utilized, it is not a surgical procedure by any stretch of the imagination). Combine this with Chiropractic treatments – the realigning of the body skeletal system through manipulation of those parts which then restores the proper nerve functioning – and you now have yet another non-invasive alternative to surgery.
A third alternative form of treatment is massage therapy. In this form, it is the hope that stress will be reduced and that circulation will be improved, both which should help to alleviate heart related problems, such as hyper tension.
In a general sense, many folks are reassessing the method in which they approach their overall health. For example, elders once thought of doctors as god-like in their abilities (not in the literal sense mind you). Today, with the proliferation of publicly known lawsuits and the media reporting every failure discovered that a doctor may have, the elder population is seeking alternatives to Westernized medicine and its doctors.
An area that has come out from under its hiding spot is Naturopathy – the healing process that employs the use of more natural forces; such as air, water, sunshine to treat diseases while rejecting more Western medical practices. And it should also be noted that many people in general, not just the elderly, are turning to these alternative forms of treatment (if we can use that term).
An example of a Naturopath treatment might be the use of holistic diets that consist of more natural contents – fish, fresh colorful vegetables, and fruits.
It should be noted that although more and more elders are moving towards these alternative methods of treatment to resolve serious medical issues (i.e., cancer, pain management, etc.), the vast majority of the American and Canadian elder population continues to rely on the Western medical system for the treatment of whatever ails them. I personally find it encouraging that we are beginning to view our bodies in slightly different ways than we once did, and that unique view is leading us in an alternative direction for our health related treatments, both proactively (through wellness programs) and reactively (through a combination of Western medicine and many alternative treatment options).
Once we are able to fully integrate the various options for treatment that are available, we may find our children and our children’s children living routinely to 100 years of age and up.