One thing in life we can all look forward to is getting older! And with that inevitable fact comes a harsh reality: we all need to take care of ourselves so that we can enjoy our later years. Whether you're 30, 40, 50 or older, you're at an age where you need to start considering what might be in store for you, and how natural medicine can help you prevent potential life-inhibiting conditions. Here are some of the more common ones, and what you can do to improve your health naturally:
1. Watch Your Tummy. Obesity (especially abdominal obesity) is one of the more serious conditions that many seniors struggle with today, and it's only gaining more gravity every year. Combined with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and insulin resistance, you have potentially developed metabolic syndrome, a condition that puts you at risk for developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and various cancers. Seeing a holistic nutritionist, taking yoga lessons and even looking into acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can help you get back in shape and ward off these life-threatening conditions.
2. It's a Joint Affair. More than half of our seniors become afflicted with some form of arthritis, whether it's rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. It's difficult to avoid because of the normal wear and tear we invariably inflict on our bodies throughout life, but the inflammation and pain can be mitigated with some massage therapy and/or acupuncture. And osteoporosis, a disease that weakens your bones to the point of potential fracture, can be prevented with proper nutritional intake of calcium and vitamin D. A good reason to see a holistic nutritionist! And yoga can help you gain the strength to prevent falls and fractures as well increase your bone density.
3. Cancer Conquering. The combination of better testing, and increased environmental stressors have more than likely been responsible for the rising numbers of cancers. While cancer is not a disease of the elderly alone, the fact is that the longer you live, the more likely you will have to fight a cancer or two. The more common cancers among seniors include cervical, prostate, lung, breast and colon cancers. Best idea to fight the growth? Once again, nutrition, acupuncture, and exercise like yoga.
4. Cardio Care. As you get older your heart rate decreases and your heart may even increase in size. Your blood vessels may stiffen as well, forcing your heart to work harder, putting you at risk for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues as well as stroke. Quitting smoking, improving your diet, and getting proper exercise can go a long way to helping out your heart (and yes, once again acupuncture, nutritional counselling and yoga can help you here!). Massage therapy can help reduce your stress levels, which may in turn provide some relief to your heart.
5. See no Evil, Hear No Evil. Eye problems and hearing issues become much more prevalent as we age. You're in line for possible issues such as cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal disorders, and in regards to your hearing: tinnitus and hearing loss. Believe it or not, acupuncture and TCM can help delay, prevent or even cure some of these issues. Be sure to also follow your doctor's advice in these regards, however, as the two medicines (conventional and natural), work best when used together. Quitting smoking can also go a long way to helping protect your eyes.
6. Stay Sharp. Your memory is going to become less efficient as you age, and it may become harder to remember things. In addition, some people are more likely than others to develop Alzheimer's. To keep your mind in good health, eat a healthy diet, get regular exercise like yoga, and stay social. Even talking to a psychotherapist about how you feel can help strengthen your mental faculties.
7. Bathroom Etiquette. Taking care of your bladder and urinary tract can go a long way to making sure you have a longer, healthier, and happier life. Conditions that can affect this part of your health include diabetes, menopause, and an enlarged prostate. Bladder control problems can affect anyone (not just seniors) due to infections, constipation, and even certain medications. Yoga is great for strengthening the right muscles around and near your bladder, and practicing Kegel exercises can prevent a lot of issues as well. Acupuncture and TCM is also used widely for urogenital issues.
By Richard Lobbenberg, Acupuncturist and TCM Practitioner