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49 - Integrative Medicine in the Care of the Elderly

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 May 2010

Christine Arenson
Affiliation:
Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia
Jan Busby-Whitehead
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Kenneth Brummel-Smith
Affiliation:
Florida State University
James G. O'Brien
Affiliation:
University of Louisville, Kentucky
Mary H. Palmer
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
William Reichel
Affiliation:
Georgetown University, Washington DC
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Summary

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

The emergence of Integrative Medicine or Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) was first recognized in 1993 with a report of a survey in the New England Journal of Medicine that found that one in three respondents had had a CAM treatment within the last year. These visits were mostly for chronic disorders, sought without physician referrals, and in more than 70%, the respondents did not inform their physician. Integrative medicine is defined by the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine as “the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient, focuses on the whole person, is informed by evidence, and makes use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches, healthcare professionals and disciplines to achieve optimal health and healing.”

Table 49.1 outlines a classification for integrative medicine practice although there may be overlap between categories. Many integrative medicine practices provide a range of these therapies with the ability to integrate them with allopathic medical approaches and practitioners. These integrative therapies, when carefully applied, are safe and have the potential for bringing greater well-being to all patients.

Currently, the older-than-65 years age group has the lowest integrative medicine/CAM use of any age group; however, the demographic bubble of the baby boomers is starting to move into the 60 plus part of the population and will soon enlarge the ‘elderly’ stratum of U.S. society. Although at least 30% of the elderly have used integrative medicine, the boomers' use is at least 50% and increasing.

Type
Chapter
Information
Reichel's Care of the Elderly
Clinical Aspects of Aging
, pp. 517 - 529
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2009

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