Baby Boomers Use Alternative Medicine

According to a recent study conducted at Ohio State University, about 70 percent of the 50 Plus market use alternative medicine. Funded by the National Institute on Aging, Professor Gong-Soog Hong spearheaded a survey that included almost 900 participants aged 50 and above. 65 percent of seniors who described themselves in poor health said they used some form of alternative medicine they considered either curative or preventive–a higher percentage than any other group.

Baby boomers are searching for other ways to alleviate symptoms such as chronic pain and arthritis, as well as utilizing alternative therapies as preventive medicine. Chiropractic care topped the list with a whopping 43% of respondents, while acupuncture came in last.

Last fall, another survey of baby boomers was conducted by Sorelli B, a national research firm. This particular study showed than more than one third of those surveyed said that chiropractic care prevented the need for prescription drugs and physical therapy. The respondents also believed that chiropractic care helped them avoid back surgery and long, grueling, hospital stays. Close to 60 percent of those surveyed stated they would be willing to petition their insurance companies to include chiropractic as a component of their health care plan even though they were willing to pay for those services out-of-pocket.

The other most popular methods of alternative medicine include massage therapy, breathing exercises, herbal medicine and meditation.

The first study looking at alternative medicine use among seniors with depression finds that close to 20 percent are using gingko biloba, ginseng, St. John’s Wort and other herbal remedies. The surprising findings could cause concern with physicians who treat baby boomers as most patients were unaware of the risks of potential drug interactions.

Helen Kale, M.D., from the University of Michigan says, “The results merit further study and suggest that seniors may have entered the alternative medicine market ina big way, much bigger than we thought.”

Why alternative medicine? Older adults are searching for different kind of treatment to lessen the aches and pains that often come with age. Seniors are reporting problems with daily activities such as carrying groceries, eating or bathing. Moreover, many of them are simply not satisfied with mainstream health care and often have issues with the current state of conventional health care. “Older adults tend to have more chronic illnesses and conventional medicine doesn’t always solve their problems,” says Hong.

In addition, the survey showed that because the treatment of chronic pain is very difficult and demanding, people living in such pain will try everything possible to alleviate it.

According to the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), the percentage of the 50 plus market who received a massage from a massage therapist in the past five years has almost tripled. Why do baby boomers get massage? For health reasons, according to the survey. Seniors even indicated they seek massage for health reasons (other than stress relief and relaxation) more than any other age group (41 percent).

The least popular practice of alternative medicine surfaced in the …