The world of Integrative Medicine, sometimes referred to as “Alternative Medicine”, has been in practice around the world for thousands of years, but has only recently started gaining popularity in Western society. Encompassing nutrition, exercise, therapy, healing, and natural medicines, its holistic approach to health and wellness appeals to seniors in particular.
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More and more doctors are starting to implement integrative approaches to medicine when it comes to their senior patients for a variety of reasons. As patients age and accumulate various age-related conditions, prescriptions for each condition begin to accumulate as well. This could cause adverse reactions for the patient from two or more drugs interacting with each other as new ones are introduced. To avoid this, doctors must fully understand all of the patient’s conditions and prescriptions, and spend a good amount of time finding the right drugs to introduce that won’t have harmful effects. Measures of alternative medicine could replace prescriptions drugs for certain conditions.
Even if not to replace prescriptions altogether, alternative medicine could be a good way to supplement for overall health in a patient. A common practice of integrative medicine is to understand the patient’s lifestyle in addition to their just their health profile. Perhaps they’re not getting enough walking in each day, or going outside enough for some good ‘ol vitamin D from sunlight. They could be eating nothing but fried and processed foods, or they’re experiencing an issue that’s causing them a lot of stress. These are all things that could cause health issues, but could also potentially be solved without the use of prescription drugs. Without a deep understanding of the patient’s overall lifestyle, a doctor may not know the underlying cause of an issue that may actually be very simple solve.
This kind of care is particularly important for seniors as our health becomes more fragile as we age. Any measure that can be taken to avoid overprescribing or potentially causing further complications should be considered. As our healthcare providers embrace the concept of integrative geriatric medicine further, more of them are willing to make recommendations for alternative methods of care and providers in those spaces. Other examples include acupuncture, herbal medicine, or nutritionists.
If you’re unsure about your insurance coverage, it’s a good idea to consider Medicare supplement plans to ensure the financial impact of utilizing these alternative care providers is minimal. Your regular doctor may have friends or colleagues they can refer you to, or you may even find that your doctor practices alternative medicine as well. Regardless, embrace your overall health and make sure you’re living a happy, healthy lifestyle.