Acupuncture For Seniors
By Cailey Halloran
What if you could feel better by relaxing, falling asleep, or taking a nap? There is good news, you can!
One of the best parts of acupuncture is it does not involve adding anything into your body. Chinese Medicine is a great compliment to using Western Medicine; according to the World Health Organization more than thirty health conditions can effectively be treated with acupuncture. Prior to working at the Acupuncture Clinic of Boulder, I practiced acupuncture in six local assisted and independent living homes. The idea was born from a wonderful externship I participated in at Golden West Senior Living Community, while I was in still in graduate school. What I loved about this experience and what I learned from treating aging patients, is it is a population of patients who get quick improvements. With acupuncture, seniors are often amazed at how great they feel after a few sessions, when they have suffered from aches and pains for many years. I have seen some amazing results: a patient, who was previously immobile from a stroke five years prior, was able to move her leg; after years of incontinence, patients have regained bladder control; patients have seen a decrease in their digestive upset, and some have noticed an improvement in their vision. I also worked with patients to control their blood sugar in Type II diabetes and to reduce the pain associated with shingles.
Aging is inevitable for all of us and providing quality care to support the aging process,and improve quality of life, is a passion for me and an impetus to practice acupuncture. As science catches up with acupuncture theory, there are an increasing amount of studies demonstrating Chinese Medicine is valuable for the aging. A frequent question acupuncturists answer is:
How does acupuncture work?
In relation to aging populations and the benefits of acupuncture, one recent study concluded that acupuncture increases the release of endorphins as well as serotonin and dopamine. The release of these hormones provides pain relief as well as an anti-depressant effect.1 This study is important on multiple levels, showing that acupuncture literally helps to change our body and brain physiology. By releasing endorphins, we feel less pain and when we have less pain, we feel better. Dopamine helps to regulate “movement and emotional responses, and it enables us to see rewards, and take action to move towards them.”2 Serotonin has a host of functions including helping regulate appetite, mood, memory, sleep and muscle function. Another study shows acupuncture has an immune system boosting effect, by inhibiting inflammation and increasing white blood cell production.3 For the elderly, who frequently have compromised immune systems, a little cold or flu could easily turn into more a serious illness such as bronchitis or pneumonia.