What Are The Benefits Of Acupuncture For Senior Citizens?

Acupuncture is a practice that is steadily on the rise across America. Skepticism over the benefits and scientific weight of the subject has relaxed, and more people are keen to give it a try.  One of the main concerns here is with acupuncture for senior citizens.

Eastern medicine and healing is the antithesis to the problem that is easily more appealing in many situations. Still, there are always going to be those steadfast in their belief that Western medicine is best. This is a problem for those that may benefit from practices like acupuncture but may not receive it.

Current generations are now ready to turn their backs on conventional practices that they view as unhealthy or inappropriate.  

This is a demographic that could benefit greatly from regular acupuncture sessions. The method and the implications suit this age group well. There are still barriers in place that limit the use of acupuncture in these circumstances.

Practitioners that embrace these alternative therapies could see some impressive changes in the health of elderly patients. It all comes down to breaking down the barriers and giving them the opportunity. More people are choosing to visit acupuncturists for help.

A 2007 National Health Interview Survey showed 4 million US citizens using acupuncture compared to 8.19 million in 2002. The numbers are growing in certain demographics. However, are seniors choosing to go or given the option to go by healthcare providers?

There is a bias against Eastern practices and old views of acupuncture use that out of place.

Acupuncture is often seen is something primarily for the younger population. There is that new age, modern mentality to this alternative therapy that places it in a younger demographic. However, this is is only really the case with Western society.

(Source: Anne Marie Gattari)

To us, acupuncture is a new age, alternative option. In China, and the East more generally, it is something that users have enjoyed for centuries – young and old. It is the time that we embraced acupuncture more readily as a way of treating seniors and improving their quality of life.

Care of the elderly is a significant part of the Chinese and Eastern culture. It is the duty of the young to honor the older generations and provide healthcare and respect throughout their old age.

Complimentary Eastern medicine and practices provide a great way to do this with natural remedies, better diets, exercise regimes and communal activities for older generations. Acupuncture is just one of the options available. Supporters claim success with joint issues, mental health problems, eye problems and respiratory illnesses.

The elderly are more prone to colds and flu and as there is no cure. Therefore, the best possible form of relief is essential. A bad cold can be debilitating for this age group, so every little helps with treatment options.

Some dismiss acupuncture because they think it is just about needles and it is all in mind.

Acupuncture is more complex in its purpose and philosophy than many assume. This practice is all about the life force energy, known as Qi, or “chi.”

It flows through twelve major meridians in the body with yin and yang polarities. We may not be able to feel it, but we know when it is out of balance because of pain and illness.

The balance needs to be carefully readdressed when these symptoms occur. It is this idea of restoring a state of health rather than medicating it that is so important in this treatment option.

Skeptics simply see the tiny needles and theory as pointless. They cannot see a direct cause and effect so dismiss it. The West has always been critical of Eastern medicine and practices. If there isn’t concrete evidence or links from a symptom to cure, they will not recommend it.

Recently in the UK, the NHS watchdog NICE removed acupuncture from a list of recommended therapies for back pain. However, many turn to acupuncture regularly for chronic pain and mental health issues and feel better. Some put this down to a placebo effect, suggesting that it is all in mind. But, if it makes a positive difference, it has to be worth a shot.

Some may question why we should turn to these Eastern options as a way of dealing with our aging population. What is wrong with Western medicine?

There are many answers to that question. First of all, there is no doubt that Western approaches to medicine can fail the elderly and mistreat them.

Palliative care needs and the provision of a comfort lifestyle don’t always go far enough. We have to question why so many people over 70 are struggling with poor health in retirement homes and hospice care in the West.

Meanwhile, many over 80 in the East still live an active, fulfilled life with the chance of many more years ahead of them. Many point to activity levels and diet, but attitudes to medication, pain relief, and therapy play a part too.

Senior Citizens And Over-Medication:

A big concern with the senior citizen population in the West is an over-reliance on medication. This is something that goes for all age ranges. It is too easy for Western doctors to throw a prescription at a problem and expect it to go away.

Senior Citizens Medication

Antibiotics are so common that people develop a high tolerance that makes the drugs ineffective. This sets them up for untreatable illnesses and potentially fatal consequences further down the line.

Painkillers work in a similar way; they are taking daily to dumb the pain of arthritis, inflammation and other conditions. They are only masking a problem and can lead to dependency issues. Statistics from the CDC show that around 177,000 older adults per year visit the emergency room due to medication issues. This over-reliance of prescriptions drugs causes more harm than good.

Acupuncture shows that there is a route towards pain relief that doesn’t require drugs. It is a cleaner, healthier approach that can have a wonderful effect.

Acupuncturists will use their needles on specific pressure points on the body to target areas of discomfort and ease a condition. However, the purpose goes much deeper than this towards a state of fulfillment and inner peace.

The acupuncture session realigns the Qi of the patient for a more serene, calm feeling and a greater connection to the body. The session can act a little like meditation, as users relax on the table and let the needles do their work.

The result does more than pain medication can. This is a chance to realign the energy of the body and make a physical difference in response to pain.

Painkillers directly block the signals and pretend that everything is fine, with no deeper physical impact on the area. This pain relieving function is important for all those that suffer from painful conditions such as arthritis and joint problems. The results may only be temporary, but regular sessions can make a big difference.

Senior Citizens And Mental Health Issues

Chinese medicine is a great tool for dealing with mental health issues in America and the wider Western culture. This is simply because of the difference between the division and compartmentalization of American healthcare, and a more general, connected view of health care in the East.

Mental Health Issues

In the West, every illness and part of the body have its department, specialists, and options. This is great when dealing with specific problems, but it does mean that patients may get passed around with referrals. If one specialist doesn’t have the right information on a secondary issue, they cannot provide comprehensive care.

There is no bigger divide here than in physical health care and mental health care. Many view them as two very separate problems. This is not the case in Eastern medicine, where the body and mind are one entity that works together. If we can treat the body and the life force together, we can treat mental health issues too.

Acupuncture is also helpful in the treatment of depression and anxiety. It releases tension and provides the sense of release and oneness that can help when dealing with stress. Again, this is an area that we tend to overlook with senior citizens.

We often see anxiety and depression – or mental illness more generally – as an affliction of the young. The current mental health care crisis may focus on millennials with financial, social and employment issues, rather than those recently retired. However, we don’t always understand what it means to retire and live life as an older citizen.

Retiring from a profession that lasted perhaps 50 years is a tough transition. Some can feel like they are no longer of use. Then there are those that no longer have their spouse, or have children that moved away, and don’t have the same family support system in place.

Senior life can be confusing and full of emotional upheaval, leading to depression and other issues. Acupuncture is a much better way to deal with this issue than antidepressants. Where possible, we need our seniors to reduce their intake of chemical medications and prescription drugs for healthier, natural methods.

Acupuncture sessions, with the meditative effect, are high on the list of useful alternatives. Antidepressants are much like many pain medications, they act as a temporary fix to numb a problem but don’t work on the cause. This idea of a connected mind and body in Eastern medicine is vital. It means that patients can manipulate the body and life force to ease the mind and find that serenity through the body.

Doctors open to mental health care and alternative therapies are more likely to recommend meditation and yoga to those suffering from stress and anxiety. Acupuncture is the next logical step.

Senior Citizens And Dementia

There is an additional link between senior health and acupuncture that is also particularly interesting right now. This is the link between acupuncture and dementia. This will immediately pique the interest of many health cares professional, carers and family members because of the current crisis in dementia treatment. The cure for dementia is a holy grail in modern medicine.

Older generations are set to suffer from the illness because there is no known solution. The aging population is growing as the baby boomers age, to make matters worse. This places a tremendous strain on resources and healthcare needs in palliative and hospice care. All alternative options for improvements should be under consideration.

Senior Citizens Dementia

This new research comes the Chinese University of Wuhan, rather than a Western university. This means there is already concern over the legitimacy of results. However, they claim that patients that use acupuncture three times a week for two months can improve.

A combination of acupuncture and the drug nimodipine was more effective than nimodipine alone. This is encouraging to supporters because of simplicity of the approach. This is a complimentary option rather than a substitution, and one that could help to reduce the impact of the disease on mental faculties.

It all comes down to providing the best possible solutions for a wide range of problems.

Acupuncture doesn’t have to be a complete substitute for modern, Western measures. Practitioners are not saying that patients should ditch the medication and rely on the needles alone.

Instead, this is a great complimentary option for senior citizens that could reduce the impact of conditions and their reliance upon medication. They can go to therapy sessions and clinics in addition to doctors and specialists. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive if doctors are open-minded.

The ideal solution for senior citizens dealing with chronic pain, mental health issues or dementia is one where they feel the benefits without over-medication.

Doctors that reduce the prescription and provide weekly acupuncture sessions may help to ease symptoms and limit the risk of further issues. Acupuncture for senior citizens may sound like an unconventional, modern approach to some. There are sure to be some that don’t believe that it can work.

However, it is important to give patients a chance and broaden care opportunities. If a simple session helps to lessen the pain of arthritis, improve their mood or even increase cognitive ability, it has to be worth it.

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