Complementary Medicine: Will it Benefit Your Senior Loved One?

Chronic diseases are taking hold of our senior loved ones as they age and have many of us looking for alternate strategies to help them improve their health.

If that’s you, know that you’re not alone in the quest. Many people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (also called CAM).

Yes, alternative medicine. Before you dismiss it quickly, you should know that it’s becoming pretty mainstream. As a matter of fact, a recent study found that 38% of American adults use CAM.

CAM Terminology

Complementary and alternative medicine is a medical system or practice that is not considered standard treatment in Western culture.

Complementary medicine refers to techniques used along with traditional medicine.

Alternative medicine refers to techniques used instead of traditional medicine.

The combination of both the traditional medical care with which we are familiar and CAM is called integrative medicine. It is becoming increasingly accepted that this combined approach may provide effective quality and safety when used properly.

Before starting any new program of CAM, you should discuss it with your physician to be sure it will not have harmful effects for your senior. Some of these alternate treatments can be detrimental to an older person’s health or interfere with the action of necessary prescription drugs.

We should remember that many CAM treatments have not been studied by the scientific community so their safety and effectiveness has often not been proven. Some precautions therefore need to be taken when our seniors pick a provider of CAM therapies.

The credentials and experience of providers should be investigated before you begin any program. Dietary supplements can interfere with prescription drugs. Because herbs and supplements are not regulated, their authenticity, effectiveness and safety are not assured.

CAM Therapies Which May Be Beneficial for Your Senior

  • Acupuncture
  • Aromatherapy
  • Antioxidants
  • Probiotics
  • Nutritional Supplements
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Biofeedback
  • Magnet Therapy
  • Exercise
  • Spiritual Healing
  • Tai Chi
  • Therapeutic Massage
  • Music Therapy
  • Melatonin
  • And many more…

Integrative Medicine and Your Senior Loved One

Your senior loved one may benefit from these types of programs, but how will you decide what you should pursue? Naturally, the first step should be with your physician. Ask them what they recommend and what you should avoid. Here are some other questions to think about.

  1. What side effects or symptoms is your senior hoping to relieve?
  2. Which type of therapies is your senior interested in trying?
  3. Why do they want to use CAM?
  4. Has your senior told the doctor about their symptoms and are they using the prescribed traditional medicine appropriately?
  5. Has your senior loved one (or you) done any research on the CAM they are considering to be sure it is right for them and not harmful? Have they investigated the provider or organization they wish to try?

We are all trying to increase our health and well-being and improve our longevity with a high quality of life in our years. Many techniques, treatments and plans can help us feel better.  We urge our seniors to proceed with caution to get the best benefits with the least expense and harm.

What CAM programs or treatments do your senior loved ones use now and how is it working? We would love for you to share your stories with our community.