Health observances such as Older American Month, Older American’s Mental Health Week (May 23rd – 29th), and National Senior Health and Fitness Day (May 26th) remind us that May is a month dedicated to keeping senior citizens healthy.

As baby boomers age, the number of seniors in America has increased and the trend is projected to continue. While there were only 33.9 million people over the age of 65 in 1996, by 2030, that number is expected to reach 69.4 million. As of 2004, persons over 65 years or older represented 12.4% of U.S. population, which turns out to be about one in every eight Americans.

The Center for Disease Control estimate that 88% of population over 65 have at least one chronic condition and many have multiple chronic conditions that they battle with on daily basis. The most frequently occurring conditions among the elderly are hypertension, arthritis, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, mental illness and sinusitis.

With such a large portion of the population facing old age, Americans are increasingly looking for ways to ease the process. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) offers a gentle and safe option. TCM encompasses a variety of preventative techniques that help make the aging process easier and even slower. These include manual therapies, such as acupuncture and massage; Chinese herbal medicine; and exercises like tai chi and qi gong, whose gentle movements and low physical impact are ideal for the elderly.

Each technique is based on the same principal of health, which has been used effectively in Chinese medicine for approximately 3,000 years. According to TCM, there are 14 major pathways, called meridians, in the human body. Chinese medicine practitioners believe that these meridians conduct qi, or energy, between the surface of the body and internal organs. It is qi that regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance. When the flow of qi is disrupted through poor health habits, aging or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result. Acupuncture, massage, tai chi, qi gong and herbs help to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked.

By treating every patient as an individual and working to balance qi, TCM can alleviate and prevent many of the health problems experienced by seniors, such as depression, arthritis, memory loss, pain, muscle and joint stiffness, heart problems, diabetes, osteoporosis, insomnia, bladder and kidney problems, impotence, and many more.

Source: American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine at CIIS

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