By Cheryl Swanson
Modern man has certainly benefited greatly from advances in medical science in the past century. From new diagnostic tools like x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to vaccinations that made once-widespread illnesses virtually a thing of the past, there is little doubt that in many ways modern medicine has helped lots of people lead longer, healthier lives.
There is another side of this coin however; one that reveals a less-savory, darker side to modern medicine. This side of the modern medicine equation is characterized by greedy pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and overseen by government regulation agencies run by industry insiders. Sadly, the primary focus of these actors is too often profit, rather than the actual well-being of patients.
It’s this latter phenomenon that leads doctors to prescribe certain medications for diseases of dubious origins, and then when complications or side effects of that drug arise, yet another drug is prescribed to deal with that issue and so on and so forth until it is hard for even the sagest of medical practitioners to distinguish the symptoms of actual diseases from side effects of medications.
As these types of occurrences have become more entrenched in modern society, a minority of free-thinking, non-conformist types have begun experimenting with alternative medicine as the cure to what ails them. These people have rightly realized that there are natural, time-tested cures to many of life’s ailments and that these efforts in some ways replace and in other ways compliment the more modern medical approach.
Natural remedies and alternative medicines can be beneficial to people of all walks of life, but they are an especially advantageous route to take for a lot of older adults. For many senior citizens a steady diet of pharmaceuticals leads to disastrous side effects. The physiological process of aging often leads older adults to be more susceptible to adverse side effects than younger people, and for this and other reasons, the use of alternative medications are becoming more and more popular among senior citizens.
However, as with any medical regiment, seniors need to exercise caution, particularly when combining homeopathic cures with prescription drugs, as there can often be complications that arise. This is no different than adding one prescription to another; older adults, their caregivers and those in senior assisted living communities need to do their homework and get the best advice of medical professionals.
Here are some examples of natural and/or alternative medicine options that are thought to be particularly valuable for older adults, including the elderly:
Yoga– You are never too old for the practice of yoga, which has tremendous health benefits from a physical, mental and spiritual point of view. Yoga helps prevent and control many of the ailments that become more common as we age.
Meditation – Studies have proven that meditation can be extremely beneficial for older adults as a way to reduce stress and even manage pain. There is even some evidence linking the frequent practice of meditation to decreased rates of heart disease.
Depression – Research into the leading prescription depression medications has indicated that the response times for older adults is often longer than those of young people. And studies have also shown that depression often hits senior citizens harder. Some of the alternative approaches to managing depression amongst older adults include color and art therapy, strategic doses of vitamins and minerals, diet modifications, and herbal doses.
Naturopathy – As prevention for many diseases and ailments, following a naturopathic recommendation, such as modifying the diet and incorporating certain vitamin and food supplements, has proven to have lasting health benefits, particularly for the elderly.
Pain Management – Narcotic pain relievers are, of course, tremendously effective at easing chronic and acute pain. However, they are also notorious for being agonizingly addictive and habit forming, and the side effects are often very steep for long term use leading to consequences worse than the initial pain. For this reason, alternative ideas such as exercise, cognitive pain control, biofeedback, and group pain management therapy has proven effective for some older adults in pain.
Cheryl Swanson is a passionate advocate for the rights of older adults and the disabled to lead normal, healthy and vibrant lives. Her writing appears courtesy of rollator specialists JustWalkers.com.