Caring for your mental and physical health should be a top priority for everyone. When mind and body are in tune, you have the best chance to stay and age well.
But in an uncertain world, maintaining good health can be complicated. Getting customized care from your physician is more difficult today, thanks to the pandemic and other issues. Integrative care can help you address those challenges so you stay healthy.
The Benefits of Integrative Care
What exactly is integrative care? RegisteredNursing.org defines it as “an approach to medicine and overall health that keeps the patient in the center of all care processes and options.” That's just one possible interpretation but it demonstrates its patient-centered perspective.
Your total health includes the well-being of body, mind, and soul. Integrative care combines medical practices and other tools and modalities to heal both the physical and mental self.
All the elements of this approach support your total health. An example would be treating a cancer patient with chemotherapy, a healthy diet, and encouraging them to meditate. Or, care coordinators help patients with chronic diseases create a treatment plan that includes conventional medicine along with Tai Chi, herbal remedies, and meditation.
These techniques also can help you age with grace.
Healthy Approach to Aging
Traditional wisdom says that aging is simply a part of life, one that most of us would like to avoid. In reality, integrative health may be able to help you age successfully
- and even a little more slowly.
How is that possible? Chronic stress can have a detrimental effect on our health. Modern research shows that it impacts the part of our chromosomes that stores information on how we grow old: telomeres.
Living on the end of chromosomes, telomeres shorten as we get older. However, intense stress shortens them even sooner. And the shorter they are, the more negative impact aging will have on our bodies. Mind-body practices that reduce or alleviate stress are critical to staying fit and healthy as you grow older.
Now is The Time to Start
There are good reasons to seek integrative care now if you haven't yet. Demand for both physical and mental healthcare services has increased in recent years. Experts also say that shortage of physicians
will be a problem in the U.S. over the next two decades as current practitioners retire. This shortfall is impacted by:
- There are more cases of diseases caused by poor lifestyle choices, such as diabetes or drug abuse.
- Mental health has also been on the decline, especially since the pandemic.
- The population of people over age 65 is increasing far more than other age groups. That means a lot more eldercare will be required with fewer people to provide it.
As needs increase and workers reduce, patients will experience longer wait times. Health care professionals are already overwhelmed with patients. Worse than that, more than 50% of medical professionals already experience burnout
. Modern medical systems contribute to that. Physicians can only spend a short time with patients, yet, they still have a lot of paperwork.
If you've ever waited months to schedule a doctor's visit, integrative care can help. For example, certain conditions can be treated by a holistic provider, like a nutritionist or chiropractor.
You can also turn to community health care workers
for basic health care and medical guidance. These workers can provide you with advocacy services as well as helping you navigate any barriers blocking access to healthcare, such as transportation or medical fees.
Integrating all these types of care provides timely intervention for your health issues.
Integrative Techniques That Complement Allopathic Medicine
Employing integrative and allopathic treatments is called a complementary approach to medicine. We mentioned a few ways that you can combine both earlier. Here are more examples:
- Individualized nutrition can be added to nearly any treatment plan. This includes special diets, pre- and probiotics, supplements, herbs, and more.
- There are several options to promote mental wellness, including mindfulness practices and music therapy.
- Other physical modalities include acupuncture, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, and chiropractic services.
One promising holistic complement to conventional medicine is the Solar Body
method. Endocrinologist Dr. Kelly Aguilar, M.D., integrates Solar Body into treatments for diabetes, adrenal issues, thyroid disease, and more. Aguilar says, “When we use techniques presented in The Solar Body book, essentially we are using many evidence-based lifestyle medicine strategies for managing disease as well as recovering our natural healing power.”
Solar Body uses rhythmic exercises, meditating in the sunlight, and energy circuit visualization. The system works together to raise your body temperature. This has a positive impact on your health and can restore your body's natural healing functions, helping you to thrive.
Integrative care boosts your physical and mental well-being. Adding these practices to proper conventional medical care will give you a well-rounded life, giving you peace and tranquility as you grow older.