This is a subject very close to my heart – at university I wrote my dissertation on the health of Older Adults and an Osteopath’s ability to care for them. As we get older, our bodies need a little bit more looking after; like an amazing vintage car that needs care to keep it in the best condition. There are a lot of ways older people can benefit from osteopathic care, and I’ll outline a few of them in this blog.
The first thing to bear in mind is that
Osteopathy is gentle.
Osteopathy can be an incredibly gentle treatment modality for older people (although I’m sure a few of my sportsman patients would beg to differ!) Osteopathy is tailored to the needs of the individual; so for older tissues with less collagen and elastic fibres, the soft tissue techniques that osteopaths use are gentler, and aimed at improving circulation rather than forcibly breaking down fibrous muscle knots.
The leading cause of older people going into assisted living facilities is loss of musculoskeletal function.
Put simply, it means their bodies can’t perform the daily tasks required to go on living unaided. Getting up out of bed in the morning, dressing yourself, getting to the bathroom, and standing in the kitchen – all of these tasks require good muscle strength, balance, and of course confidence – all of which osteopaths can help an older patient to achieve.
Falls are incredibly common in older people.
In addition to the injuries sustained in a fall, it can also be very damaging to an older person’s confidence. Re-building strength after a fall is very important, and an Osteopath can show a patient how to perform some simple strength and balance exercises to help them get back to normal function after an accident.
Osteoarthritis is even more common!
We all get a bit of ‘wear and tear’ in our joints as we age – it’s as normal as getting grey hairs! It’s the inside-of-body version of wrinkles on our skin, the important thing to remember is that having degenerative joints shouldn’t limit our activity, and it certainly shouldn’t mean we’re in pain every day. Having Osteopathic treatment can soothe tight muscles and help retain the movement in stiffening joints to help older people remain active and independent.
Hand strengthening exercises, exercises to keep the muscle mass in people’s arms and legs, and shoulder mobility exercises can help older people to keep their function. An osteopath can even point older people in the direction of appropriate exercise classes locally for patients who want to take their exercises a step further!
If you know an older adult who could benefit from some Osteopathic treatment, share this blog with them!
Here are some links for more information on the topics covered in this blog;
What the NHS has to say about falls in the elderly
Age UKs advice document on preventing falls in older adults
Information about Osteoarthritis
A great local exercise class for Older People at Boldmere Methodist Church