Chiropractic seniors care is rising dramatically under new U.S. legislation and a population that is living longer
By now, there should be no question that older Baby Boomers (those born between 1944-64) are representative of an unprecedented rise in the population. As these Boomers age, they will require more medical care for various conditions that can arise.
This increase in care will then put excessive stress on an already-burdened health care system. This is where chiropractic seniors care may be able to help relieve some of this stress and strain. Of course, seniors are a special group of patients when it comes to actual treatment. Read further to see just how bigger the elder population has gotten, along with some suggestions for safely and effectively treating older patients.
Baby Boomers big – and growing
According to the US Census Bureau, there are almost 48 million people in the United States ages 65 and older.1
Seniors also make up almost 15% of the total population, which grew by 1.6 million from 2014, prior to the most recent census in 2015. By 2060, the US Census Bureau projects there will be almost 99 million Americans 65 and older, or approximately one in four people in the U.S.1-3
Additionally, some estimates show as many as 14% of older Americans are currently under chiropractic care, most often for lower-back pain.2,3 Looking at all of this data, it is easy to see that you should expect the number of older patients in your practice to increase over time.
Treatment considerations for older patients
Getting a thorough medical history is vital for your older patients, particularly if they are taking a number of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications. You should also ask about any vitamins, supplements, or herbal medications your patient is taking. This information can help you ascertain if a particular treatment may result in a bad interaction with certain medications.
Just as there are special considerations for treating infants, toddlers and children, the same holds true for chiropractic seniors care. In particular, you must be aware of potentially-weakened bone and joint structures as a result of osteoporosis or osteoarthritis.4 This may require foregoing high-force manual adjustments, depending on the patient’s clinical history and your initial physical examination.4
Increased government support
As of January of this year, chiropractic organizations started advocating, with success, for increased coverage of non-drug approaches for seniors and military veterans.
This month, with support from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act of 2019 (H.R. 3654) was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, which will enable seniors to have access to all Medicare-covered benefits allowable under a chiropractor’s state licensure.
“While lawmakers have not viewed updating Medicare’s chiropractic statute as a priority in the intervening years, things changed dramatically with the emergence of the national opioid epidemic — which adversely impacts America’s senior population as much as it does younger people,” the ACA said in a statement. “Many seniors already take multiple medications for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, and by combining those drugs with prescription pain medications for their musculoskeletal conditions, they are left more vulnerable to not only negative interactions but also opioid addiction or overdose.”
The wave of legislation and opinion toward increased non-drug senior care is expected to continue, opening more doors for chiropractic seniors care and also that of military veterans.
Longer medication histories
In addition to considering adjustments with less force based on bone density issues, you may also need to tailor your treatment based on your patient’s medication history. If any of your patients are taking anticoagulants or steroids, they may be at higher risk of bruising or bleeding during certain soft tissue massage techniques.4
In addition, this list of medications will make it easy for you to determine which vitamins and nutrients may be contraindicated, depending upon a patient’s medications.
Today’s Baby Boomer seniors are not only living longer, but are also more active and engaged with the world around them. A wellness plan that includes regular chiropractic seniors treatment will help keep them vital for many years to come.
- US Census Bureau. Facts for Features: Older Americans Month: May 2017. Available at: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2017/cb17-ff08.html Posted April 10, 2019. Accessed June 23, 2019.
- Weigel P, Hockenberry JM, et al. A longitudinal study of chiropractic use among older adults in the United States. Chiropr Osteopat. 2010;18:34.
- Dougherty PE, Hawk C, Weiner DK, et al. The role of chiropractic care in older adults. Chiropr Man Therap. 2012;20(1):3.
- Hawk C, Schneider MJ, Haas M, et al. Best practices for chiropractic care for older adults: A systematic review and consensus update. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2017 May;40(4):217-229.