Aging gracefully for patients includes physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and key support systems for each
Doctors have likely all seen an increase in the number of older patients in practices. This is a result of a combination of almost 69 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946-64) and more than 65 million Generation Xers (born between 1965-80). You likely already know this and have tailored parts of your practice toward healthy older patients aging gracefully.
Senior patient opportunities
If you have not already done so, specialized nutritional and exercise programs, as well as regular, maintenance chiropractic care should be added to your menu of services specifically for these patients. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has made preventive health care for older patients even more crucial, as they are particularly susceptible to the disease. How can you help your older patients get through this pandemic, and what makes chiropractic particularly well suited to do so?
One way of approaching the needs of your older patients during this pandemic is to break everything down into three basic categories of wellbeing and aging gracefully: physical, mental, and emotional. These categories often overlap, which is why holistic medicine, such as chiropractic, is on the rise.
Physical wellbeing: boosting or maximizing the immune system
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have stockpiled a massive amount of what they consider essential supplies, such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and bottled water. According to the marketing survey company IRI, consumers also considered nutritional supplements to be pandemic essentials.
In March 2020, sales skyrocketed from the previous year for vitamin C (146% increase), zinc (255% increase), elderberry (415% increase), and echinacea (122% increase).2 This dramatic increase makes sense, as these are all supplements that can boost the immune system.
Mental wellbeing: cognitive function
There’s no question that this pandemic has affected your patients’ cognitive function. They may be having difficulty remembering or focusing on even simple tasks. As frustrating as this may be for anyone, it can be even more upsetting for your older patients, particularly if they take pride in their intellectual abilities.
Fortunately, there has been some exciting research into nutritional supplements – nootropics, fish oils, ginko biloba, creatine, omega-3s, certain vitamins — that can help improve or slow the decline of cognitive function.3-5
Given the extra stress and worry that comes as a result of the current pandemic, your older patients will need nutritional support not only for their physical wellbeing, but also for their cognitive function.
Aging gracefully and emotional wellbeing: mindfulness
Finally, mindfulness helps your older patients keep in touch with how they are feeling and coping with the current crisis. Mindfulness can include meditation, yoga, tai chi, or simply breathing exercises that teach relaxation. So many conditions that affect seniors, such as arthritis and high blood pressure, are associated with chronic inflammation. Online mindfulness resources for seniors may be a great way to help them cope with their anxiety and depression regarding the pandemic.
Given the current chaos and uncertainty, some sense of order and familiarity can be a tremendous help to your older patients. By positioning yourself as an expert in holistic medicine, you can help alleviate their fears and keep them aging gracefully on their regular wellness routine.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Weekly Updates by Select Demographic and Geographic Characteristics. Provisional Death Counts for Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Table 2c. Updated June 3, 2020.
- COVID-19 Impact. Consumer Spending Tracker for Measured Channels: U.S., UK, France, Italy, Germany, NZ. IRI Report. Updated April 2, 2020.
- Small GW, Siddarth P, Zhaoping L, et al. (2018). Memory and brain amyloid and tau effects of a bioavailable form of curcumin in non-demented adults: A double-blind, placebo-controlled 18-month trial. American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2018;26(3):266-277.
- Dysken MW, Sano M, Asthana S, et al. Effect of vitamin E and memantine on functional decline in Alzheimer disease: The TEAM-AD VA cooperative randomized trial. JAMA. 2014;311(1):33-44.
- Daiello LA, Assawin G, Shira D, et al. Association of fish oil supplement use with preservation of brain volume and cognitive function. Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association. 2015;11(2)2:226-235.