Older people are being asked to consider regular chiropractic care, with compelling anecdotal evidence from real life stories that it is helping people to live active, social and independent lives for longer.
The Alliance of UK Chiropractors (AUKC), which represents hundreds of chiropractors across the UK and globally, says that reducing pain and improving the range of motion is key to a better quality of life as we grow older. And, says the organisation, remaining active also plays a crucial role in enjoying a social lifestyle, which is known to assist mental health.
The ‘Move Better, Live Better’ message comes as part of the AUKC’s 2020 Spinal Awareness Week from 17-23 May. The AUKC incorporates the United Chiropractic Association, McTimoney Chiropractic Association and Scottish Chiropractic Association.
Andrew Robson, executive member of the UCA, said: “We are keen to make people as aware as possible, just how much chiropractic care can benefit the older population. It helps their bodies move better, it helps with both balance and strength, and it helps them keep active.
“This isn’t just good for physical health, there are recognised psychological benefits to the social side of keeping active. It keeps you involved in activities, such as walking with friends. Simply getting out and about and seeing people, chatting with people, works wonders for keeping our mind active and sharp.
“Sadly, some elderly people can go weeks without talking to anyone because they tend to stay at home if they suffer a loss of mobility. This also means they sit down a lot more, so it becomes a vicious circle. With isolation comes loneliness and potentially depression and an increased risk of mortality.
“This is why keeping as mobile as possible is massively important to overall wellbeing, it is the critical starting point. In that sense, chiropractic care is a means to an end, it kick-starts everything.”
Andrew sees plenty of evidence of this himself, with some clients at his Droitwich clinic playing regular sport well into their 80s – and even reporting improvements in their golf swing!
“We know that chiropractic care benefits older people because we see it every day in practice,” he said. “They are moving better, doing more, getting stronger. It’s the law of cause and effect – with muscles and bones, it’s a case of use it or lose it.”
One example is Valerie Bird, in her 70s, who is enjoying an active lifestyle again after years of being in pain: “I had struggled with lower back problems for many years, so was recommended to see a chiropractor,” said Valerie. “I saw Andrew regularly and he helped me considerably to become fitter and more active than I’ve been for several years.”
And Sandra Marshall is still line dancing in her 70s, after seeking chiropractic care: “I first attended a chiropractor in 2014, initially after a bad fall which damaged my lower back, coupled with a curved spine and arthritis,” said Sandra.
“The pain and lack of movement in my back prevented me from many of the activities I loved. After intense treatment and encouragement, I started to see an improvement. Five years on, and at the age of 73, I still have a session with the chiropractor every three weeks. My spine has not deteriorated, and he deals with my arthritic joints, enabling me to keep active, enjoying my craft work, line dancing, holidays in our caravan, and regular walks with less pain.
“I wish I had known the benefits of regular visits to a chiropractor when I was younger, especially with the curvature of my spine.”
The AUKC says one of the biggest barriers to better health in older life is people wrongly believing there is nothing they can do to improve things: “A lot of people suffering pain are told ‘you’ll just have to live with it, it can’t get any better’ or ‘you’ve got arthritis and that’s it’,” explained Andrew.
“We are arguing that you don’t have to just grin and bear it, that this doesn’t have to be forever, and that things can improve. For example, chiropractic care can help with balance and with the effects of osteoarthritis. It can get you moving and help you to retain your independence for as long as possible. So don’t give up!”
The organisation points to research that links chiropractic care with less dizziness and better balance, suggesting it might also reduce the risk of falls. One systematic review found that in nine of 11 trials studied, there was a statistically significant improvement in relation to balance
( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22343006/ ) .
Another study of 13 different trials found improvements in dizziness in all but one of them
( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182131/?report=reader#__ffn_sectitle ).
Andrew said: “Clearly, good balance is essential in maintaining an active lifestyle, as well as in reducing the risk of falls.”
Chiropractic care isn’t only about adjustments, however. It adopts a holistic approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle: “We look at things such as diet and nutrition, meditation and breathing exercises as well,” said Andrew. “It’s really about adopting healthy habits which are important to all of us throughout our lives, but which are even more so as we get that little bit older.”
For those considering chiropractic care for the first time, most chiropractors are happy to offer a free of charge, no obligation chat to find out how it might benefit them. Find a qualified, registered AUKC chiropractor in your area: www.united-chiropractic.org ; www.mctimoney-chiropractic.org ; www.sca-chiropractic.org