CAM use among older adults.




J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Aging
Professional Data: Aging


According to the World Health Organization, there are over 390 million adults over the age of 65 years worldwide. Aging is a natural, normal part of life. We sometimes tend to fear growing older, accepting without question the belief that ill health and infirmity are inevitable consequences of the aging process. It doesn't need to be this way. While it's true that our risk of disease goes up as we age, there is no reason why we cannot enjoy good health for a lifetime. In fact, science is learning more about how we can do just that. No one can turn the clock back on aging, but an impressive body of scientific research points the way to strategies that may help people stay healthier as they grow older, and perhaps even live longer. How long you live and how healthy you remain while you live depend a great deal on the way you live.

Complementary and alternative medical therapies (CAM) have become more common over the past two decades. This emerging field covers numerous treatments including acupuncture, herbal therapies, massage therapies, chiropractic, aromatherapy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine, to name only a few. From initial stages of development has grown a huge population of individuals whose personal health goals include the concept of preventing disease and staying healthy and this includes older adults.

A recent study investigated the prevalence of CAM among older Americans. One concern regarding this use is that many adults may not discuss their CAM treatment with their conventional doctors. This cross-sectional survey investigated the use of CAM along with the patients' doctor charts. The record data from this survey included prevalence of CAM use, supplement and herb use reported to doctors, patients who took supplements with anticoagulant properties while taking a prescribed anticoagulant, and the percentage of those taking the anticoagulant supplement that was or was not recorded in their chart. A total of 182 adults over the age of 65 years were involved and of these, 64% stated that they use CAM. Unfortunately, only 35% of these patients had this information documented in their physician's chart. 84 patients reported using a supplement with anticoagulant properties and 52% of these users in addition took a prescribed anticoagulant. The authors concluded that physicians do not consistently record information regarding CAM use in their patients' charts. This could lead to harmful interactions because of the increasing use of CAM among the elderly.1


1. Cohen RJ. Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Use by Older Adults: A Comparison of Self-Report and Physician Chart Documentation. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2002 Apr;57(4):M223-7.