Chiropractic and Wellbeing of the Elderly Population

Introduction

Chiropractic can benefit anyone at any age, as we all have spines and nervous systems that need to be looked after. Chiropractic can provide many benefits to people in the elderly population. Therefore, it can have a positive effect on many aspects of their lives. This is especially important as we have an aging population, and need to look after these members of our community. Here are 4 ways chiropractic can help have a positive effect on the wellbeing of the elderly population.

 

Balance

As we age our balance progressively worsens. This creates an increased risk of falling. Falling has more serious consequences as we age because our bodies gradually become more fragile. Falls are a major health concern in the elderly population. They can cause injury, loss of independence and quality of life, and in serious cases even death. Falls account for over 80% of hospital admissions for injuries in people over 65. Moreover, they are the leading cause of injury related death for this population. In addition, falling has a high health care cost associated with them, which is only going to increase with our aging population.

Chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body. This helps with balance and preventing falls in multiple ways. Firstly, it increases our reaction time which makes us more likely to be able to catch ourselves if we trip. Secondly, it allows us to more accurately know where our body parts are in space, which leaves us less vulnerable to falling. And thirdly, it increases our ability to integrate our senses from external factors and respond to them faster and more appropriately.

Pain

Chiropractic is probably most well known for its ability to assist with musculoskeletal issues and pain. And this is no different in the elderly population. They may have pain for different reasons such as injury from a fall, or due to the degeneration process. By restoring the proper joint biomechanics in the spine, the spine moves better and allows the muscles in these areas to relax. As a result, this often leads to less pain. Moreover, chiropractic allows better communication between the brain and the body, which allows the body to heal itself better and faster if there are any injuries there causing pain. As many older adults are on multiple medications, chiropractic is a great, natural way to reduce the need for painkillers for musculoskeletal issues and pain. As a result, this may lead to reducing the overall side effects someone may experience from taking multiple medications2.

 

Mobility

Chiropractic restores normal movement of spinal joints as well as extremities. As a result, this not only improves motion for that joint but also an overall range of motion for the whole spine/extremity. Importantly, elderly people are then more likely to be able to continue with activities that they enjoy doing e.g. gardening, walking, playing with grandchildren. Moreover, when we return normal motion to these joints, we also take the stress away from them. In addition, when we decrease the stress on these joints and improve movement, we are also slowing the degenerative process3.

 

Mental Health

When you combine all of the above points, this has an amazing impact on the overall quality of life of older adults. Importantly, when they have increased mobility and decreased pain, they are more likely to be able to keep exercising and doing things they enjoy. Moreover, remain independent. Remaining independent is very important to older adults and has extremely positive effects on their mental health. In conclusion, the longer they can remain independent, the better their mental health and overall wellbeing will be. Moreover, chiropractic helps improve quality of sleep, all contributing to improved mental health and quality of life4.

 

 

 

References:

 

  1. Holt, K. R., Noone, P. L., Short, K., Elley, C. R., & Haavik, H. (2011). Fall risk profile and quality of life status of older chiropractic patients. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 34(2), 78-87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmpt.2010.12.01078.
  2. Vindigni, D., Zark, L., Sundberg, T., Leach, M., Adams, J., & Azari, M. F. (2019). Chiropractic treatment of older adults with neck pain with or without headache or dizziness. Analysis of 288 Australian chiropractors’ self-reported views. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 27(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12998-019-0288-1.
  3. Brantingham, J., Snyder, R., & Biedebach, D. (1994, March 25). Spinal manipulation may help reduce spinal degenerative joint disease and disability. The Chiropractic Resource Organisation. https://chiro.org/ChiroZine/ABSTRACTS/Degenerative_Joint_Disease_and_Disability.shtml.
  4. Ohio State Chiropractic Association. (n.d.). Chiropractic care for seniors. Senior Citizens Guide. https://www.seniorcitizensguide.com/articles/southwestohio/chiropractic-care-for-seniors.htm.

 

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Common Myth About Chiropractic

Once you start going to a chiropractor you can’t stop

If you are seeing a chiropractor or have mentioned you are considering it to a friend you may have heard this little lie “once you start going to a chiropractor you can’t stop”.

This myth may be because many people who start going to a chiropractor do in fact continue to go even after their initial care phase. This isn’t because they have to but because they choose to. The reality is that with any health choice it takes sustained effort to maintain results. Think about it, if you have a terrible diet of lots of takeaway food and soft drinks which has caused weight gain and you clean up your diet and lose the weight, do you think you will keep the weight off if you return to your old habits? Of course, this would be foolish to think!

The same is true with spinal health and strength; if you start utilising chiropractic, postural awareness and exercise to improve your strength and pain. Then going back to your old habits will most likely get you back to the same place that you started with.

For those who want a bit of research about this topic click the link below to s study performed in 2011 that demonstrated better pain and disability outcomes with ongoing “maintenance” care (fortnightly chiropractic adjustments) compared to those who only received an initial care phase of one month.

So the truth to the myth that “once you start chiropractic you can’t stop” is that once you start chiropractic you can CHOOSE to continue reaping the benefits of a stronger, more mobile and coordinated spine or you can CHOOSE not to. As with most things in life, the outcome is down to the choices you consistently make!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21245790

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The Falls and The Elderly

Falls and the elderly

Falls are the main cause of morbidity and disability in the elderly. More than one-third of persons 65 years of age or older fall each year, and in half of such cases, the falls are recurrent. The risk doubles or triples in the presence of cognitive impairment or history of previous falls.

Reducing the risk of a fall has a few factors to it, the balance being a major one. In addition, the ability of your brain to recognize where your limbs are in space (proprioception is the technical term for those who are interested). 

An interesting study demonstrated improved stepping reaction time and ankle joint position awareness following 12 weeks of chiropractic care.  Although this is only one study, it does show improvements in factors linked with falls risk and stability.

It’s noteworthy that the participants in this study were all in their mid-sixties and older. You are never too young or too old to benefit from utilizing chiropractic care to improve the function of your nervous system and spine!

 

Falls in the elderly

 

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Why You Should Exercise As You Get Older

Introduction

For many years we have heard the term “use it or lose it.” This term seems to be the best way to describe the problems we face as we age. There have been many researches showing the correlation between inactivity and diseases and disorders in the elderly population. Our muscles are quite important as we get older, they can provide the body with amino acids which can be used as energy for various organs. The maintenance of strong muscles is crucial for preventing metabolic diseases and aid in healthy aging.

 

Reduced risk of falling

Falls can be a major risk as we get older. Around 30 percent of elderly people aged over 65 falls at least once a year. So what should you do to prevent your muscles becoming weaker? Exercise of course! Some people believe that exercise may make you more prone to falls. However, that is a common myth and it is quite the opposite. Exercising can help improve overall strength, co-ordination and balance making you less likely to fall. Research has shown that physical stress placed on our bone structure during exercise can stimulate the growth of new bone tissue as well making it less likely to fracture.

 

Improvement in mental health

As we get older our brain function can also decline. Being active as we get older can help improve brain cognition, prevent memory loss and can help with multitasking. Physical activity may also help slow the progression of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

 

Helps you maintain a healthy posture

As we get older and we do not stay active, our spinal muscles that surround our spine become weak. The spinal muscles help stabilise our spine and keep it erect. However, with a sedentary lifestyle, the muscles that hold up our spine can weaken, ultimately creating a structural shift within the spine itself. These structural shifts can cause damage to the spine, discs, surrounding ligaments and muscles leading to constant pain.

 

Conclusion

Many people often are stuck with the mindset that exercise can only be done when we are young. Well research shows different. It is never too late to exercise, many of the benefits that come with exercising can be obtained once started. Inactivity can rapidly decline a person’s health when we’re older. Start exercising now and watch yourself feel 100 times better straight away!

 

Exercise is good not only for the young ones

 

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Symptoms and treatment of Muliple Sclerosis

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is the primary demyelination and neuro-degeneration over disperse areas of the grey and white matter of the brain and spinal cord.  Chronic inflammation of the CNS is the primary cause. Most patients with MS initially present with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RPMS). In addition, a second phase, known as the secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (SPMS), can follow.

However, patients that do not experience both RPMS and SPMS suffer from primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS). It results in an uninterrupted progression of the disease. Due to the nature of this disease, half of the patients diagnosed with MS need assistance with mobility 20years after being diagnosed. Progressively 50 percent of the patients will have developed noticeable cognitive deficits.

The chronic nature of this disease may cause patients to develop a disability over time due to incomplete recovery from the previous attack. MS is a disease with no fixed symptoms and is difficult to predict in an individual patient. Thus the most appropriate treatment for patients with MS is to educate them about the variable nature of this disease.

Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Clinicians characterize Multiple Sclerosis by individual distinct episodes known as “attacks” and “relapses” of neurologic dysfunction. The symptoms produced by these individual episodes may vary depending on the location of neurologic involvement.

Some common symptoms may include:

– Numbness
– Tingling
– Weakness
– Loss of vision
– Gait impairment
– Incoordination
– Imbalance
– Loss of bladder control

More commonly a patient who suffers from multiple sclerosis may experience motor weakness. Motor weakness usually associates with upper motor neuron signs such as mild spasticity, hyperreflexia, and pathologic signs. In between when the symptoms occur the patient may experience neurological stability, often with no symptoms; the relapsing-remitting phase (RRMS). As a result, 10 – 20 years after the first occurrence of the symptoms RRMS may progress to SPMS, which results in an insidious worsening of function and neurologic disability.

Progression of Multiple Sclerosis

As MS progresses further the signs first observed may worsen and new presentations may occur. The recent criteria, provided by McDonald, states that MRIs can enable earlier diagnosis of MS. However, despite the advanced technology we have today, clinical evaluation of the differential diagnosis proves to be the best method to diagnose MS. In addition, many orthopedic tests, observed appearances, and other neurological tests can help narrow down the possibility of MS.

Treatment Options

Integrative care with multidisciplinary health care professions is the way to approach the care of multiple sclerosis. There is no care that can help benefit a patient with multiple sclerosis. However, care that can help in the reduction of the number of attacks, the severity, addressing the adverse effects on daily living, and how the disease affects the psychosocial aspects of the patient is the best management scheme possible.

Chiropractor Auckland - Multiple Sclerosis

 

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Can Chiropractic Help Improve Gait In Elderly?

Introduction

Gait is the process by which a movement occurs through periods of unloading and loading of our limbs. Gait includes all forms of locomotion; running, hopping, skipping, and cycling. However, walking is the most used form of gait. It provides us with independence for many of our activities of daily living. A normal gait requires the body to co-ordinate with other organs such as our ears, eyes, brain, muscles, and sensory nerves. When one of these areas is lacking, difficulty in performing a normal gait may arise.

There is a variety of research concerning traumatic injuries in the elderly population. Ages range from 55 – 80 years of age. A leading cause of injury in the geriatric population is falling.

 

Gait and the elderly population

According to the New Zealand ACC statistics in 2016, there were 138 304  new claims in people aged 65 years and older. As a result, consequences from these falls may lead to restrictions in their activities of daily living. And finally a loss of independence.

Common symptoms associated with gait are difficulty walking, trouble with balance, and unsteadiness. These gait and balance problems can come temporarily through trauma, injury, inflammation, and pain.

A fall is a common cause of injury in the elderly

 

According to recent research, fall risks are a concern for morbidity and mortality in the elderly. Falls play a very significant role in the causes of death, injury, and loss of quality of life. Falls account for more than 80% of injury-related hospital expenses in adults over 65 years old. As a result, every year, one-third of the community elderly’s have more than one fall. Falls happen when an individual is unable to maintain the center of gravity within the base of support provided by their feet.

The research has identified many risk factors that increase the risk of falls in elderly patients. These risk factors include age, lower limb disorders, and balance disorders. If there is a combination of these risks present, the chance of falling may increase to up to 80% per year.

 

How can chiropractic help?

Chiropractic is a health care profession that focuses on improving neuromuscular dysfunction. Chiropractors look after the nervous system and the spine by correcting Vertebral Subluxations.

Vertebral Subluxation is described as an interference with the normal function of the nervous system. These vertebral subluxations can come from any aspect of an individual’s life such as stress, trauma, or chemical imbalances. They are the underlying causes of many health problems including gait and balance. A vertebral subluxation is defined as a joint in the spine that is not moving correctly, and that is negatively impacting health and well-being.

Research has shown that an adjustment to the spine increases joint function and contraction of muscles around the area. It gives strength and stability to the spine. Ultimately chiropractic adjustments can help the elderly be less prone to injury due to falls.

 

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