Getting older – staying active
Retirement can bring time for leisure, travel opportunities and interests to the older person. This is the chance to take up those sports and activities that you never had time for whilst working and bringing up your family, e.g. golf, gardening, badminton, fitness classes etc. The body, however, has changed. It has lost some of its elasticity and ability to adapt. It has also experienced injuries and postural stress during those years, often resulting in repetitive strain injuries, stiffness and degenerative changes.
The onset of health issues such as high blood pressure, digestive and circulatory disorders and arthritis have all begun to have a noticeable effect on the body’s energy and ability to perform. Many grandparents also help working parents
by caring for their grandchildren – a pleasure for many but also a strain on the older body.
Quality of life is especially important for this age group when there are increasing concerns about loss of independence and mobility.
Osteopathy can help greatly during this time. An osteopath will take a full case history so they can understand how the body has been affected so far. Then, after a full examination and assessment the osteopath will be able to offer
treatment and advice to help improve mobility, circulation and immune function, and reduce joint stiffness so that the older person can enjoy a full and active life in retirement.
The treatment is usually gentle and aims to maintain health and prevent further injury. Dietary advice may also be given to help maintain healthy bones and joints.
• Gentle stretching daily to help maintain tissue elasticity and joint mobility
• Walk as much as possible to keep circulation healthy and maintain muscle tone
• Have a daily rest to recover energy for the rest of the day’s activities
• The use of trainers or similar footwear can help to reduce wear and tear to the knee and hip joints, and can also help reduce back pain when walking on hard pavements
Professionalism and safety
To qualify, an osteopath must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. By law, osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC). It is
an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered.
The British Medical Association’s guidance for general practitioners states that doctors can safely refer patients to osteopaths.