I worked for over two years at a pain clinic that happened to be connected to a long term care facility for senior patients whom a lot of them were my patients. I found that acupuncture was really incredibly helpful on my patients even if their treatments at the clinic were multidisciplinary (cared for by different physicians and getting different types of remedies based on their conditions.
In terms of health conditions, older patients seem to suffer from unique problems. For one, a lot of them are on a wide variety of drugs due to myriad conditions. I discovered that I need really to sit down with them, and in the initial consultation,take the time to document what drugs they were on and then do some studies to ensure that none of these drugs are the ones causing any of the problems they were coming to see me for and if these drugs were reacting adversely with each other. The so many medications my elderly patients were taking truly astounded me. Most were not really what they were for, and some had been taking them for so long that they had forgotten why they were prescribed.
According to traditional Chinese medicine or TCM, as people age, their life force or vital energy (jing) gradually declines. This is a natural part of aging and is normal and healthy. But since this jing is not infinite, it slowly is exhausted. How it is used more or less reflects the way we live our lives,regardless if it was used wiselyor not. This can be gleaned on someone who has done drugs, did a lot of drinking, smoked a lot, did a lot of partying and has lived hard… this person appears to be worn out and usually looks older than he/she actually is. This person has been exhausting his/her Jing resulting in premature aging.
I noticed one other thing about my senior patients. When I took the time to sit down and talk with them it made a huge impact in the quality and speed of their recovery. Showing that I was really listening to them and establishing a connection with them made a huge difference in their treatment and their prognosis. Most of us have failed to see what a little act of kindness can do to people, especially, in the medical profession, and specifically, with seniors. Sadly, a lot of doctors don’t give the time to really listen to their older patients. Yes, they are the authorities when it comes to illness and disease but most are skeptical of treatments they know little or nothing about. Giving your patient an opportunity to relay to you his/her experience of what is causing their ailment, or what is out of balance is a key part of the treatment and the subsequent healing process.
I noticed also that my elderly patients were very seldom touched. An extremely crucial aspect of our lives is touch. Physiologically, touch is important for stimulating, the immune system and an emotional feeling of purpose, affection, and connectedness. Sometimes, I also noticed that they would hold my hand as they tell me how they were doing just to feel a connection with another person. Therefore, I always strive to integrate some massage into the therapy which they always really like. Acupuncture and massage are extremely stimulating and moving to the body helping seniors treat stagnation and keep things flowing freely since these people often suffer from energy and blood stagnation.
Why Acupuncture in Palm Harbor Can be Very Beneficial for the Elderly
Acupuncture works extremely well because of all these factors. To the elderly, drug interactions can be potentially dangerous. With acupuncture, you don’t have to worry about this concern since it can be applied in a gentle way, based on the patient’s needs.
Due to their tendency to suffer from long term deficiencies, the elderly are not as sensitive and by the time a symptom is felt, it is usually already very serious. Acupuncture is a powerful treatment which can be used on very deficient or sensitive patients. Besides acupuncture, TCM has many modes of treatment including exercise, which is extremely important, emotional wellness (which I was attending to by allowing them to express what they were feeling and talking to them), and dietary therapy (I noticed that a lot of elderly people were not eating a balanced meal). A lot of them don’t move around much or go out. I always recommend walking as a part of their treatment even if it is just walking around the halls, although I prefer that they go outside and breathe some fresh air and enjoy the beauty of nature. This is helpful for improving mood, getting the blood to circulate, and for the movement of energy in the body.
In the clinic, I and a physiotherapist set up a program for a female elderly patient. We told her to go to the next door three times a week to participate in an exercise class with the seniors. This class was always packed and the staff noticed a significant improvement in the mood and overall health of the patients.
Depression is another common issue. Most senior citizens live in facilities such as the place I work in because they lost a spouse, are unable to care of themselves, and/or are sick. This can impact the psyche big time hence, depression is common. On its own, any of these can be a big adjustment, but since these factors oftentimes come together, it is easy to see why a lot of people become depressed. Some shut down and withdraw, some become depressed and sad, and some are frustrated and angry at their plight. I noticed that people fared better when they are more connected to other people and to the world. They become more balanced and happy, and health-wise, really good if they went on outings, saw their children and friends, and had visitors.
TCM and acupuncture thankfully, have a lot of ways to treat depression. In TCM, depression can manifest in different types and reasons. The patient can be on the way to recovery by means of an accurate diagnosis and a thorough intake. I witnessed lots of patients dramatically get better and seeing them improve perhaps was the most rewarding of my career. My elderly patients were the most appreciative and most kind hearted patients I have ever met.
Sadly, our society does not think highly of its seniors the way most cultures do. The oldest members of the village, family, or town, in several cultures around the world are highly revered since they possess something the younger individuals do not… wisdom. This kind of wisdom can only be attained by living, therefore, among them are the wise. Our Western culture does not have the same reverence for our elderly. If it had, they would not be placed in homes and not forgotten, and abandoned. They have so much to offer and teach us.