A cancer diagnosis is devastating at any age, whether you’re a young adult or a senior. But as you get older, cancer treatments come with a higher risk of complications. This may result from existing health conditions or dangerous interactions with other medications you take.
You might have heard about alternative therapies before. But how can they help a senior cancer patient?
Alternative medicine takes a holistic approach to treating cancer. It puts more focus on healing and strengthening the entire body rather than just the areas directly affected by the disease.
When aggressive cancer treatments are not an option (due to age, health conditions, or the specific type/stage of cancer), it may be best to choose an alternative to traditional treatment. You can also choose to combine alternative therapies with conventional medicine.
In this article, we’re going to explore a few alternative methods that may help a senior undergoing cancer treatment:
Types of Alternative Treatments
What kinds of alternative cancer treatments may benefit you? Here’s a brief overview of a few popular treatments:
Supplements & dietary changes
Our bodies need fuel to survive. When we’re recovering from a serious illness such as cancer, we rely on nutrients and vitamins to strengthen our bodies. If we aren’t getting these essential minerals from our diets, it may affect treatment outcomes.
A healthy, balanced diet can improve the way we feel and help our bodies heal. Encourage your loved one to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. In addition, limit their intake of sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. If they are deficient in one type of vitamin or mineral, they may consider taking a daily supplement.
Strengthening the mind-body connection
Some believe that the mind influences the healing abilities of the body. If you experience chronic stress, this could make your current symptoms even worse.
What can you do to reduce stress and improve the mind-body connection? Try these alternative treatments:
- Yoga. In the yoga practice, there is a strong focus on the breath. Our breath helps us center ourselves. For seniors, it’s important to practice slow and gentle movements. Gentle exercise is a great way to keep the body and mind strong.
- Meditation. Mindfulness can help you root yourself in the present moment. Rather than getting caught up in the “what-ifs”, you can focus on the sensations of your body. This can help distract you from your worries and calm your anxiety. To strengthen these effects, try combining aromatherapy with your next meditation session.
Our mental state directly affects how our body feels. These gentle practices can help with relaxation and stress reduction.
A deep tissue massage aims to break up scar tissue and promote blood flow. On top of these body benefits, a massage can put you into a deep state of relaxation. This is incredibly beneficial for someone dealing with a cancer diagnosis; they are likely experiencing all kinds of stress in their lives.
Many seniors suffer from arthritis and other joint pain conditions. If you are receiving a massage, be sure to let your massage therapist know if they are applying too much pressure.
The Benefits of Combining Alternative and Traditional Treatments
Alternative therapies can be used to complement conventional cancer treatments. Are you thinking of using alternative therapy to help a senior in your life? The benefits of this approach include:
Treat the side effects of traditional therapies
Chemotherapy is incredibly hard on your body. Even though it’s an effective cancer treatment, it has serious side effects, many of which are harder on seniors. A few common side effects include:
- Difficulty eating
Depending on what a senior is experiencing, various alternative therapies may be chosen to address these side effects. Meditation and breathing exercises can help someone who is nauseous; vitamin supplements may improve sleep quality.
Your senior loved one may require palliative homecare after undergoing cancer treatment. But by strengthening their body and mind with various alternative therapies, they may feel healthy enough to regain some of their independence. This will help improve their confidence and may help those dealing with depression.
Improve their quality of life
Living in pain is not much of a life at all. If we are consistently worn down by aching joints, nausea, and fatigue, it’s hard to find joy in the things we love.
For some seniors, alternative therapies may help them get back what they’ve lost. They can find the strength to do things like enjoy meals with loved ones, go for a walk outside, and attend family gatherings.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before you consider alternative treatment, it’s vital to talk to your oncologist. To safely reap the potential benefits of other therapies, make sure to check that the treatment will do more good than harm.
Cancer is a severe disease. We strongly recommend that you follow the advice of a medical professional. Using these treatments in a safe and medically supervised way can help improve the quality of life for a senior.