Aging Gracefully: Can chiropractic help us to age more gracefully?

A path of health and well being.

older couple is aging gracefully
How healthy do you want to be when you get older?
What are you doing now that will help you age more gracefully?

Aging Gracefully. The big decline. We have all heard about it. We all face it at some point. How old do you want to live  to be? How can make sure we are aging gracefully? Can chiropractic help?

As the years pass by, I find that many of my patients and chiropractic practice members are facing challenges associated with aging.  Do you know that Centenarians are the fastest growing demographic in the country? Getting older is in vogue. Medicare, it seems, is the new Woodstock. Aging gracefully with chiropractic.

I find myself being a sounding board daily, for people of all walks of life. People with health challenges of all kinds. As a result,  there are a few things I hear people say over and over. In fact, I feel I could write a book based on some of the stories that people create and tell about their health, their illnesses, their care and why they have whatever problem or “condition” they may present with. Maybe someday I will write this. (for an excellent book on this subject already written, check out Healing Myths, Healing Magic by Donnie Epstein) But, to me, the saddest of these stories told over and over again, is that they are just going to have to “live with” their problem. They are told or believe that whatever their problem is, or however it may present, is just due to “OLD AGE.”

Now while I am not going to deny that there is a natural “aging process,”  I think all too often this excuse becomes an easy cop out for the patient, and more especially for the doctor. Aging gracefully is not in the usual family doctor’s vocabulary. More times than not in fact, this comment has originally actually come from someone’s medical doctor. It is true that the usual MD practices with limited resources for helping us be “healthy.” They spend most of their time putting out fires and treating “sickness,” not promoting wellness. Typically wellness in the medical realm revolves around what is referred to as “early detection.”  Often, that doctor is facing a patient’s problem that either they do not have the tools or the know-how to help. I hate to say it, but when someone’s doctor makes a comment like that, I feel they are often uninformed about natural choices, or bragging about their clinical incompetence. Too often for the patient, it is used as a lazy excuse for not taking responsibility for one’s own health. This is one reason your health insurance is so high. You are paying for all the people who smoke, give themselves diabetes through horrible diets and never exercise. When they get sick, it is someone else’s fault or “just old age.”

Here are some ways their story of illness and aging may present itself in a clinical setting in my office:

A patient, lets call her “Mary” comes in to the office with neck pain and headaches. Mary says, “my doctor told me “this is just due to old age and I’m going to have to live with it.””

We look at Mary’s x-rays and see degeneration and she may say:

“I guess that’s just due to old age”

Or: “I guess that’s just what happens when you get old”

We discuss her presenting concern/back pain, neck pain, headaches whatever and she says, “I guess its just old age.

Mary comes in with low back pain and frequent urination during the night.  “Guess it’s because I’m getting old.”

It can be difficult to explain to “Mary” that I look at hundreds of X-RAYS and evaluate hundreds of people PER YEAR! There are 40 year old people who have spines and joints that look like they are 90. There are 90 year olds that have spinal joints that look like they are 40.  Are these changes simply due to old age? I don’t think so.


If it is not old age then what is this that happens to our spines and joints?First, lets take a step back and look at the big picture. Science now tells us that the first person who will live to be 150 years old is probably alive today. This is great. But, is living longer all we really strive to do? Everyone would like to live a longer life. Modern medicine and science is pushing our life expectancy out longer and longer. (until recently) But what good is this if we are not living better? In my health classes, I always ask the group, “how old would you like to live.”  The answer is always, without exception, “I would like to live as long as my quality of life is good.” Would you agree?

In the early 1800’s life expectancy was only about 35 years old. What difference did it make if we didn’t take good care of our spines, our nervous systems and joints? You were going to die young anyway. Chances were that you would die before debilitating arthritic processes would set in.

As life expectancy increased into the late 1800’s we lived longer. The industrial age came and lifestyles changed. We began to have new kinds of problems. People stopped dying of plague and dysentery and started dying of heart disease and cancer. We didn’t die before out bodies wore out. They came with us in to the new lifestyle and the new life expectancies. We had never taken care of our bodies in the way we need to now.

It was during this period of increasing stress and increasing life expectancy that chiropractic was developed. DD Palmer, davenport, Harvey Lilliard.

BJ palmer, Grove park, Asheville,

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