Getting older can bring many rewards – a sense of accomplishment in goals achieved through work, family, and community, time to pursue creative endeavours, time to travel, and time to focus on our health and personal care.
But as many of us know, aging also brings health concerns – osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, hearing difficulties, blood pressure highs and lows, and loss of muscle tone are some of the more common complaints.
Advanced periodontal disease causes tooth and bone loss and can exacerbate cardiac health in older adults.
Changes in our appearance – dry skin, benign growths such as seborrheic keratosis, pigment changes, visible facial veins, and skin laxity can belie the vibrancy we feel inside as we view the obvious signs of aging in the mirror.
The individual challenges presented by an aging body are intertwined with overall health and well – being. No one ailment stands alone.
- It is hard to stay fit if your joints ache with arthritis.
- If you are not physically active, your blood pressure can be affected.
- Osteoporosis (brittle bones) can also develop from inactivity.
- Hearing loss can promote isolation. Being social is a challenge when hearing loss presents.
- Depression can set in when you avoid socializing or if you’re in constant pain from arthritis.
- Poor oral health can impact heart health.
A holistic approach to wellness as we age:
The best, most efficient healthcare considers the whole of you – your body, your mind and your spirit or emotional health.
If one part of you is not functioning at optimal levels, then it’s likely other aspects of you are affected.
Think of caring for your body the way you would care for your automobile.
- Would you change the oil without checking the other fluid levels?
- Rotating your tires? Would you do that without an alignment?
Probably not. And a good mechanic would ensure that your car was all over safe, sound, and properly maintained before you took it out on the road.
Your health care practitioner should be as thorough.
What does holistic medicine mean for us as we age?
A holistic approach to wellness recognizes that each aspect of your body, mind, and spirit has an effect on the whole of you. Individual components do not function in isolation. Everything affects everything else.
A holistic approach to healthcare means considering all aspects of one’s life and not just the one body part that happens to be malfunctioning at the moment. Physical symptoms may be the driving force that takes you to the doctor but to thoroughly understand what is happening that doctor will examine all aspects of your life – social, emotional, physiological, and psychological.
An individual prescription for arthritic pain is not going to bring your life back into balance. If you want to embrace and enjoy this stage of your life to the fullest, live it as well as you can.
Follow these simple steps to get started:
- Visit a naturopathic physician for a complete check-up. He or she will ask you questions and discuss your overall health and wellbeing. Be open about yourself and how you feel. Let the doctor know about medications you are taking, about your quality of sleep, and about your nutrition. Remember you are building a relationship with your healthcare provider. You should feel comfort and trust.
- Follow up with any recommendations the doctor makes. Depending on the results of your check-up he or she may ask you to visit a dentist and hygienist, to see a nutritionist, to have blood and urine tests done, to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist or to see an audiologist to test your hearing. The doctor will refer you to a medical skin-care specialist or specialist in facial aesthetics to address concerns about sun damage, dryness, skin lesions, and other problems. Your doctor may also refer you to a chiropractor, especially if you are experiencing chronic pain.
- The Chiropractic Doctor will address acute and chronic pain throughout your body and offer solutions that may include custom orthotics to help you walk more comfortably, spinal adjustments to alleviate back and other body aches.
- The Naturopathic or Chiropractic Doctor may also suggest alternative and complimentary therapies such as therapeutic massage, physiotherapy or psychological counselling.
While no one individual will receive all of these recommendations, it’s important to understand that there are many solutions available for the inevitable challenges of normal aging.
By staying healthy, active, social, and creative, and by looking our best as we age, we can enjoy the vibrant and robust lifestyle we deserve.