To Your Health
March, 2007 (Vol. 01, Issue 03)
By concentrating on neck and lower back exercises that improve flexibility, posture, and strength, the senior can dramatically enhance the chiropractic care he/she is receiving.
And remember, many doctors of chiropractic practice non-force techniques that are preferred for the more severely compromised spines that have arthritis, osteoporosis and any developmental anomalies.
All in all, not a very pretty picture! So, what are the solutions? Simply put, seniors need to stay active as long as they possibly can. They should attempt housework, yard work and hygienic practices daily. The toughest patients are the ones who lie around in bed and lose almost all interaction with others. For that reason, I recommend against seniors having a television set in their bedroom. If they want to watch television, they should come out to the den or living room and interact with the family or other residents (if in a nursing home).
Seniors in independent or assisted-living facilities should be encouraged to attend the daily exercises offered by the activities director. In my opinion, this should not be optional; it is essential. For seniors who exercise on their own, they should keep a log or journal that tracks progress from week to week. They also should be encouraged to share it with an "accountability partner" for support and positive feedback.
In regard to electric scooters, I discourage their use, as they promote further weakness and muscle atrophy. In terms of walkers, I prefer models that allow the senior to sit down. This is important if the senior plans on staying at one location for a long period of time or if they are weak and prone to falls. In my opinion, a "cage-style" scooter is generally best if a senior has suffered three or more unexplained falls.
Many seniors take far too many prescriptions and over-the-counter medications for their various pains and conditions. Sadly, a potential side effect from ingesting so many medications is that it causes the patient to become extremely disoriented, which can lead to dizziness and periodic falls. Chiropractic treatment can help them avoid using so many drugs. Less pain and fewer health problems leads to fewer drugs and their accompanying side effects.
Finally, the foods seniors eat are very important. A diet emphasizing vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, lean meat and coldwater fish is ideal - for people of all ages. Vitamin D supplements are also promising, in conjunction with calcium/magnesium, to combat metabolic bone diseases that often affect seniors.
Gregory B. Sheppard, DC, graduated from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic in 1981. His clinical focus is on the elderly, particularly those who are physically impaired and/or handicapped.