Seniors are working with naturopathic doctors to supplement the care they receive from their family physician.
Katherine Masters, a naturopathic doctor at Livstil Wellness in Langley, said many seniors enjoy visiting her at the clinic because patients feel they aren’t rushed.
“One benefit [of naturopathic medicine] is that they get more time with a doctor,” she said. “So, they get to sit down and go through their whole health history, which I think often they really appreciate… seniors don’t really like to be rushed.”
When a patient first visits with Masters they undergo a complete check-up.
“Sometimes seniors even just come in because they want to know what supplements to take… but then I think they don’t realize that they’re going to get a full physical, and a good checkup, and then information given back to them based on that – based on what they could be improving in their lifestyle, diet,” she explained.
Common concerns Masters hears from seniors are about bone and brain health.
“The treatments are more focused at bringing a balance back to the body and getting the body to do what it needs to do on its own,” she explained.
If a naturopathic doctor learns a patient has a significant concern that needs to be addressed, Masters said they will refer them to the emergency room to be seen by a medical doctor and undergo such things as imaging if need be. She noted naturopathic doctors often work with a patient’s family doctor, as well.
“[Seniors] might come in for a wellness check, but during the exam we find out that they’ve got a urinary tract infection, or there’s something that needs to be looked at, so sometimes that’s the direction of the appointment – it’s not very common that someone comes in and there isn’t anything there that needs to be worked on,” she said.
And naturopathic medicine is not new to seniors.
“A lot of seniors, I think, already know the benefits of natural things, because they often use them when they were younger, their parents use them on them when they were younger, and they’d rather try to have an alternative way of looking at something that’s going on, outside of being given a prescriptive medication,” Masters noted.
Similarly, naturopathic doctor Mihaela Chirhei, who works at A New Leaf Naturopathic Clinic in Langley, said she has noticed an increased trend in seniors seeking out naturopathic medicine.
“I think the population that we see also kind of have an interest in naturopathic medicine and looking at ways to improve their health, not just be managed with pharmaceuticals,” she said.
“So they’re looking beyond just they’re wanting to optimize things… we spend a lot of time kind of focusing on foundations of health as well, and lifestyle.”
A common concern Chirhei addresses with seniors patients is surrounding digestion.
“I find that it seems to be helpful, as a first step, to add some sort of digestive enzyme, or something like that, to help individuals break down their food better, make sure that they’re absorbing their nutrients,” she explained.
“And then we can consider adding a probiotic… what tends to happen is as we age, stomach acid levels decline.”
Other issues include arthritis and hearth health.
Every patient is different.
“Our clinic, our initial visits are 45 minutes, and then my follow up visits with patients are 30 minutes,” Chirhei said. “So there’s definitely a lot more time to talk about all of their (seniors) options.”