Any Care - All care - Health care for the elderly

Heath care for your family or relative

What health care options are available for your mother or father, Aunt or Uncle when they go into a care or nursing home?

What is osteopathy?

Osteopathy is concerned with inter-relationships between the structure of the body (the musculoskeletal system) and the way in which the whole body functions. Many things can alter the body framework and may adversely affect the functions of the tissues involved. These could include congenital and developmental abnormality, injury, disease states or habitual misuse or over-use. These adverse effects are most obvious within the musculoskeletal system, but osteopathic treatment can also influence beneficially other areas of the body, such as respiratory and vascular systems.

Osteopaths work with their hands, using a wide variety of treatment techniques. These may for example, include soft tissue stretching techniques, passive joint movements to improve mobility, or manipulation techniques designed to improve the function of a joint. Gentle release techniques are widely used, particularly when treating children or elderly patients. Osteopaths are concerned with the structural integrity of the whole person.

What is Chiropody?

State registered chiropodists are the foot-health professionals. They have undertaken a three-year full time course. They can treat many conditions, for example:
  • rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • peripheral vascular disease
  • diabetes mellitus
  • in-growing toenails
  • rams horn nails
  • backache and walking difficulties
  • verrucae
  • corns and bunions
  • hammer toes

More advanced procedures undertaken include total and partial nail avulsions, biochemical assessment and the supply of orthotics. Since the 1970's state registered chiropodists have been allowed to administer local anaesthetics.

What is Reflexology?

There is evidence that reflexology was used for centuries by both the Chinese and Egyptians. Today it is a popular, safe, drug less therapy which increases the ability of the body to resist disease and to repair and heal itself.

Every organ, structure and system of the body has a corresponding reflex point on the feet and hands, and reflexologists apply pressure techniques to those points to induce therapeutic effects in affected parts of the body and the whole body. Reflexology can thus be used for virtually all health problems. Best results are obtained from working with the feet.

What can reflexology do?

Stress or tension related ill health is a common problem and one of the main aims of reflexology is to alleviate physical and mental stress and give deep relaxation. In addition whilst the body is relaxing the reflexologist will work on the feet to balance the systems of the body including:
  • improving circulation
  • cleansing the body of toxins and wastes
  • stimulating the nervous system
  • balancing the hormonal system
  • enhancing the immune system
  • helping the respiratory system
  • regulating the digestive system

What does the treatment involve?

The reflexologist will not treat just the disease, but is concerned for the care of the whole person. You will therefore be asked about your symptoms, your medical history and your lifestyle, diet, stresses etc. The therapist will then work all over both feet so that the whole body is covered, but will concentrate on symptom and related areas. The Reflexologist may find congestion or imbalances and will then also concentrate on those areas. You may feel momentary discomfort, however, you will feel very relaxed throughout. Time is also given for foot massage / relaxation at the end of treatment.

It is important to state that the therapy does not conflict with orthodox medical treatment and practitioners seek to work in conjunction with the medical profession, making referrals if necessary. This is why proper training is essential for practitioners.

Who can be helped?

Since reflexology treats the whole person and all parts of the body, most conditions can respond to treatment. These include back/shoulder/neck problems, sciatica, muscular tensions, sinusitis, headaches, migraine, asthma, arthritis, emotional problems, menstrual/menopausal problems, digestive problems, I.B.S., cystitis etc. Even progressive disorders such as M.S. can derive benefit. Reflexology is also good for M.E. and for anyone with low energy. The treatment is also regularly used by cancer sufferers.

The therapy is suitable for most people from children to old age

Reflexology has great preventative value because problems can be detected at an early stage and the immune system is enhanced. Occasional treatments when well are therefore a pleasant way of maintaining health and well-being.

What is Homeopathy?

Homeopathy is an effective and scientific system of healing which assists the natural tendency of the body to heal itself. It recognises that all symptoms of ill health are expressions of disharmony within the whole person and that it is the person that needs treatment rather that their disease.

Homeopathy uses remedies made from a very wide range of substances including minerals and plants. They are made through a process of repeated dilution and shaking which makes them more potent but also safer. Since there are only infinitessimal amounts of the substance in the remedy they cannot act like conventional drugs which override the body's own healing mechanisms. Instead they stimulate the body into doing whatever is necessary to return the body to a state of health. The remedies work with the body to promote a state of balance, strengthen the immune system and help the body to more easily cope with the stresses of life. The remedies are usually given as tablets or in water.

For instance, instead of treating a child's sore throat with antibiotics which will remove the inflammation but may weaken the child's immune system and do nothing to prevent a recurrence of the problem, a homoeopath will try to use the body's built-in healing system to actually cure the problem permanently.

This system of healing by 'similars' has been successfully used since early Egyptian times but it was not until 180 years ago that a German scientist and doctor called Samuel Hahnemann published a modern description of its philosophy and method of practice. He called this system 'Homeopathy' which means 'similar feeling' since the basic principle is that any substance which can cause symptoms when given to a healthy person can help to heal someone who is experiencing similar symptoms.

Because homoeopathic remedies are so dilute there is no risk of side effects. They are non habit-forming and safe for anyone to take; from tiny babies to the elderly. They are also safe to use during pregnancy and labour. Homeopathy is effective for a very wide range of illnesses; mental & behavioural problems, emotional upset and physical disease. It is equally successful in treating chronic (long lasting) illness such as asthma and MS as it is in helping with acute problems including first aid and childhood illnesses. Read more.

Treatment

People find their first appointment with a homoeopath a very different experience to visiting a conventional doctor. Your homoeopath will want to know all about you (or your child) and there will be plenty of time for you to talk and discuss any issues that concern you. You may be asked general questions about your likes and dislikes, sleeping habits and reaction to wet weather as well as specific questions concerning any problems you may have. Your homoeopath will use all this information to prescribe a remedy that matches your symptom picture and personality. She will discuss any other treatment you may be having and is happy to work with your own GP/specialist and other therapists as necessary. There is no need to stop taking any medication you are taking immediately. This may be reduced or discontinued when appropriate.

 

Acupuncture

All based on the Ying and the Yang

Acupuncture is based on Taoist philosophy (Taoism is a popular Chinese religion) according to which a vital energy called Qi runs through our body. This vital energy consists of two well-known complementary poles, the Ying and the Yang. The Qi flows through the body by means of twelve channels called meridians, six with Ying polarity (negative) and six with Yang polarity (positive). Each meridian is linked to an area of the body centred on an organ (the meridian of the liver, lungs, heart, etc.).

Energy must be allowed to flow freely through the meridians at all times. If the energy is blocked, the person's health is affected. In order to assess the circulation of this energy, the acupuncture practitioner feels the six Chinese pulses situated in three different regions of the two wrists. The practitioner uses three different degrees of pressure on the patient's radial artery in this process.

The studying of Chinese pulses allows for the detection of imbalances in energy flows in one of the meridians which may result in the emergence of diseases in different organs in the body in the short or long term depending on the meridian concerned.

Preventive and curative medicine

There are 650 acupuncture points in the human body which the practitioner can stimulate to regulate vital energy. Some of these points invigorate whilst others disperse or pass energy from one meridian to another.

All round effective techniques

The acupuncture points can be stimulated in different ways

  • using needles: this is the most common technique in the East
  • using heat: this is the moxa technique which consists of heating the points
  • using massage : this is the Shiatsu technique
  • using electricity : this technique is also called electro-acupuncture and electro-stimulation therapy and is mainly used in hospitals.
  • using lasers.

Proven curative action

Acupuncture can be used in addition to traditional treatment or as an alternative treatment for patients who cannot use certain medicines or do not obtain adequate results with standard treatments.

Acupuncture can often relieve or cure numerous common illnesses when it is inappropriate to prescribe powerful treatments which can always produce side effects of varying intensity:

  • psychosomatic problems such as spasmophilia, anxiety, situational depression, stress, sleep problems.
  • digestive problems such as ulcers, colitis, intestinal transit problems, etc.
  • rheumatic affections such as arthrosis, sciatica, tendonitis, dorsalgia, etc.
  • skin problems such as herpes, eczema, shingles, etc.
  • serious allergies, asthma, hay fever, conjunctivitis, etc.
  • circulatory diseases, arthritis, venous diseases, heart rhythm problems, etc.

In addition to its curative action, which rebalances the patient's Qi flow, acupuncture also has preventive effects. It strengthens the body's defences and thus prevents further illnesses from occurring. Statistics prove that a patient treated regularly by acupuncture on a preventive basis falls ill less often than others.

The point of view of western scientists

The therapeutic results obtained from acupuncture by our neighbours in the Far East over many years have inspired western scientists to examine the scientific data resulting in this curative treatment.

These investigations were sparked by the identification of the effects of acupunctural analgesics used in surgical interventions as early as 1965. The action of the needles stimulates insensitivity to pain, a phenomenon which a Canadian doctor, Professor Pommerantz, explained in the following terms: the stimulation of certain acupuncture points in a patient gives rise to the production of endorphin, equivalent to morphine secreted by the human brain, which creates the anti-pain effect of acupuncture and therefore favours analgesic action during surgical interventions.

In France, Professor Niboyet discovered that the electrical resistance of the skin differs depending on the acupuncture point in question. This discovery resulted in the launch of acupuncture point detection devices which are capable of determining the apparent resistance of the surface of the skin.

Studies conducted by doctors working on thermography (study of temperature variations in the human body) have revealed the existence of unexplained warm and cold points. Working in cooperation with acupuncture practitioners, they revealed that the anomalies corresponded to the traditional acupuncture points which only appeared if the corresponding organ was diseased. The thermographic anomalies are eliminated if the organic problem is treated by acupuncture.

Numerous other leading scientists have examined the effects of acupuncture. Since its effectiveness is now recognised, it has become a medical science in its own right requiring a basic certificate for the Doctorate of Medicine and a higher certificate for the acupuncture practitioner's diploma.

Acupuncture is incorporated in general medicine

A visit to an acupuncture practitioner involves the same obligations as those applying to general medicine: asking the patient questions to determine the problem, physical examinations, prescriptions for analyses or X-rays if necessary. The practitioner then examines the Chinese pulse on the patient's wrist in order to determine whether the energy flow in one of the meridians is imbalanced and to identify the emergence of a problem affecting one of the organs. Once the problem has been identified, the practitioner positions his needles, which vary in number depending on the patient and the affection (about a dozen).

For the past ten years or so, practitioners have been using electricity instead of needles to enhance the patient's comfort. Electro-acupuncture consists of diffusing weak electric currents for short periods over larger acupuncture zones by means of a device. The electricity creates a radiating effect and the device allows for more autonomous use and personal management of acupuncture sessions at the most convenient time.

Natural treatments

Acupuncture does not produce any side effects or addiction. It is concerned both with the physical and psychological aspects of the patient and offers an effective response to over 80 % of problems. Its role is both preventative and curative.

Special care is taken with the needles used: they are either used only once or are sterilised in surgical ovens for two hours at a temperature of 200 degrees.
The electro-acupuncture principle is inoffensive and can be freely used on medical advice.

Dental Care for the elderly

Old age can bring a variety of dental health problems. Medical conditions that are more common in older age, such as arthritis in the hands and fingers, may make brushing or flossing teeth harder.

Common Dental problems

  • Darkened teeth. Caused possibly by changes in dentin,
  • Root decay. This is caused by exposure of the tooth root to decay-causing acids. The tooth roots become exposed as gum tissue recedes from the tooth.
  • Gum disease. Caused by plaque and made worse by food left in teeth, use of tobacco products, poor-fitting bridges and dentures, poor diets, and certain diseases, such as anaemia, cancer and diabetes, this is often a
  • problem for older adults.
  • Tooth loss. Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss.
  • Uneven jawbone. This is caused by tooth loss.
  • Denture-induced stomatitis. Ill-fitting dentures combined with poor dental hygiene or a build-up of the fungus can be a cause of constant irritation. See here.

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