February is known worldwide for Valentine’s Day.  But it is also celebrated as National Senior Independence Month.  As we age, it can sometimes become increasingly more difficult to maintain our independence and this is one of the aspects of aging that many people dread.  We don’t want to be a burden to our family or society, but more importantly, we don’t want to lose our ability to come and go as we please or do the things we have done for ourselves all our lives.  And when our quality of life declines, so too can our overall health.  But there are still many seniors who enjoy rich, fulfilling lives and this is where acupuncture can be really beneficial.

Acupuncture treatments are beneficial to seniors because they get relief from ailments without having to deal with the side effects of medications. They also don’t need a doctor’s referral to get acupuncture treatments.  According to recent research done by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, more than 177,000 adults do visit the emergency wards as a result of medicine problems and unfortunately, many of them are seniors.  Prescription medications can be confusing and are frequently prescribed without much discussion about side effects.  Acupuncture can help seniors reduce the need for prescriptions and hopefully keep them out of the emergency room.

Another way that acupuncture can help seniors keep their independence is through its ability to treat eye conditions.  According to a recent study, vision loss in the age group of 80+ currently makes up 8% of the population in the US.  Acupuncture has been shown to provide relief from eye ailments for all ages, but especially in the elderly.  Age-related macular degeneration is the most common vision issue in the elderly and acupuncture can be a phenomenal tool in fighting off this issue.  Acupuncture also helps with night blindness, myopia, cataracts, retinitis pigmentosa, retinopathy, glaucoma, macular edema and eye strokes.

Most people initially think of acupuncture when they think of pain management.  And that is definitely one of the ways that acupuncture can help seniors, especially with arthritis.  Acupuncture has been shown to provide much needed relief to seniors who are undergoing chronic pain conditions including arthritis.  To treat arthritis, needles may be placed all over the body, but in particular along the arms, legs, hands and feet.. The frequency of the therapy of arthritis using acupuncture may vary, but acupuncture has been shown to be effective in treating arthritic inflammation, pain and reduced range of motion.

As we age and we lose more people who are close to us, we are also prone to experience grief, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and depression.  Enter acupuncture treatments. Most of these problems are common to seniors and they are frequently accompanied by aches and pains. East Asian Medicine, which acupuncture is part of, recognizes that the mind and body are inseparable and thus, need to be treated together.  Acupuncture is an amazing tool that helps to lower cortisol levels, balance hormones and ease the heavy heart and mind.

Aging can make you feel out of balance.  This is another way that acupuncture can help seniors maintain their independence.  There is this term used in East Asian Medicine known as “qi” (pronounced “chee”).  It is frequently referred to as the body’s life force.  This life force energy is generated continuously in the body and flows along 14 energetic pathways. The energy flow is balanced by two polarities that are referred to as “yin” and “yang”. When pathogens invade the body, they cause an imbalance of the energy that can lead to disease.  But it’s not just pathogens, poor lifestyle choices can also lead to imbalances.  Acupuncture assists the body by restoring proper movement of qi, while balancing yin and yang.  When there are fewer illnesses, age becomes less daunting.

It’s pretty clear that acupuncture can be a great tool to help seniors stay healthy and happy, while also maintaining some, if not all of their independence.  So talk with your family members and let them know that acupuncture can help them stay young and spry.  And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get them started now with regular treatments as preventative medicine, because preventative medicine is where acupuncture began.

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