Growing older brings new challenges to the body. The decrease in mobility and imbalance is so gradual that the change can be barely noticeable until you go to reach for something on a top shelf. Few people realize that a chiropractor is able to follow your declining muscle strength and take steps to improve.
Seniors that make routine visits to a chiropractor are made aware of the loss of mobility and are taught how to improve their personal situation. Here are some ways how chiropractic care can be beneficial to senior health. By 2030, nearly one in five U.S. residents is expected to be age 65 or older. An estimated 14% of patients treated by doctors of chiropractic (DCs) are 65 and older. The most common reason for an older adult to see a DC is musculoskeletal pain, most often lower back pain. The most common reasons for older adults seeking chiropractic care are musculoskeletal symptoms of pain, loss of balance, and range of motion.
Improved Quality of Life
Decreased mobility is the number one complaint that seniors seem to share. Failing to join in with family and friends because of the pain and limited movement can force seniors to just stay at home. Chiropractic care with adjustments and learning the right exercises can release this feeling of being alone and able to take part in activities that were once seen as impossible.
Coordination and Balance
Feeling unstable on your feet comes from your main core becoming weak and unable to carry the weight of your body. By strengthening those muscles that support the spine, coordination and balance return. There are exercises geared toward seniors that can be done at home, with a group, and do not require any equipment.
Sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Place one hand behind your head and use the other hand to reach for the floor. Keep reaching toward the floor as far as you can. You will feel the muscles tightening along your side. Repeat this exercise with the other part of your body. Each day will promote you to a longer stretch and help to strengthen your core muscles.
Lie on a flat surface on your back. Bend your knees with feet flat on the ground. Keep hands flat along your sides. Tighten your abdomen and raise your buttocks until your torso is straight. Count to three and lower your body.
Lie on a flat surface on your stomach with arms and hands outstretched in front of you. Raise your head, right arm, and left leg at the same time about two inches from the floor. Lower and repeat on the opposite side. This is a good exercise for improving stability and strengthening your lower back.
Lie relaxed on a flat surface on your back. Raise your right leg five inches off of the ground and hold it in place for three seconds. Lower and repeat with the left leg. Your muscles surrounding your abdominal core will become strengthened.
Book Opening Stretch
Lie on your side on a flat surface. Bend your legs at a 90-degree angle behind you. Clasp your hands behind your head with elbows framing your face. Stretch your outer arm behind you and toward the floor without breaking pose. Do six stretches and move to the other side of your body. This is an excellent exercise for strengthening the muscles around the upper spine and muscles that hold your head.
Lie on a flat surface and place your hands, palm down, under your buttocks. Slide your left leg toward your hips, keeping your foot flat on the ground. Keeping your head straight, lift your body as if trying to sit up. When your head is about six inches off of the ground, hold the pose for five seconds. Lower and relax. Switch legs and repeat. This exercise is named for Stuart McGill, Ph.D., who designed the exercise in the place of the traditional crunch for seniors. He is widely regarded as the world’s top spinal researcher.
Improve your Immune System
Receiving an alignment on your back can increase general circulation. This also removes the toxins from your body. The brain functions better and communicates clearly with other parts of your body. Studies have shown as much as a 200% increase in the functioning of the immune system with regular chiropractic care over the course of 5 years. One study found that a group of seniors with COPD were able to enjoy fewer problems with breathing after four weeks of chiropractic treatment. Many other secondary illnesses and diseases have seen the same positive results.
Range of Motion
Chiropractors use chiropractic adjustments to treat senior citizens and increase flexibility in their bodies. A chiropractor has a variety of treatment methods to improve a person’s range of motion. By improving your range of motion, a senior may find themselves able to lift up a grandchild or take up gardening once again. It may take several treatments to achieve the results you want, but a few visits to the chiropractor are well worth the increased range of motion you will enjoy!
When Seniors Fall
Injuries due to falling are extremely common in the senior population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), falls are the number one cause of 90% of the 850,000 bone fractures which occur annually among Americans past the age of 65. By seeking out a chiropractor for a senior health program, the risk of falls decreases. They can also prescribe stretching and exercise programs to increase strength, flexibility, mobility, balance, and coordination. A chiropractic program for stabilizing your body at the core can prove beneficial in aging.
A systematic review by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in 2010 found that physical therapy and the use of vitamin D supplements reduced the risk of falls in older adults. Chiropractors provide treatment and exercises for musculoskeletal conditions as stated in this report.
Elderly patients often suffer from back pain due to osteoarthritis or spinal compression fractures. If your back is not aligned, it places increased pressure on vertebrae and can increase your risk of a fracture. Spinal manipulation and massage can help ease the pain from osteoarthritis by relieving pressure from the joints between vertebrae. Strengthening muscles through core exercises can also reduce inflammation in the spinal areas that are often inflamed from stress. Pain-related musculoskeletal disability can also influence balance, gait, and the ability to accomplish daily activities. When pain is overwhelming, it can contribute to fall risk. There is also evidence that the right exercises and manipulation may help with cervicogenic vertigo.
Increased Balance and Coordination
Aging weakens the spine and not just from injury. When degenerative changes begin to occur, balance and coordination happen. Structures, known as mechanoreceptors, play a huge part in signals to the brain that controls body awareness. Once these structures weaken, the position of the head in relation to the body is affected, causing a lot of coordination problems. Chiropractors can help restore balance and coordination by stimulation of the joint receptors in the cervical spine.
There have been countless studies performed regarding the benefits to seniors with chiropractic services. Chiropractors spend more time with seniors in helping them to realize what is taking place inside their bodies. Some seniors try very hard to fight the aging process. However, without the knowledge of what is taking control within the spine, these areas never receive the attention needed. Here are some facts on how chiropractic services have been found to aid many seniors:
- Attitude toward regular exercise is improved.
- Likeliness to need nursing home care is decreased. In one study, 48% of patients were able to avoid moving into a nursing home by actively using chiropractic services.
- A decrease in hospital stays is noted.
- 22% of seniors are less likely to have arthritis by keeping joints active.
- Approximately 23% of seniors suffer from non-disabling back pain while 6% have disabling back pain.
There are many signs that prove that chiropractic services are a benefit to seniors with limited mobility. Once you become familiar with these positive ways of improving your life, a chiropractor and their infinite knowledge of the spinal cord will convince you to seek out their help.