With increasing age, the body changes and responds differently to medications. This is generally due to a change in lean body mass, a decline in liver and kidney function, a decrease in gastric acid production and other effects. It is also estimated that more than 10% of all medical care provided to older adults is due to adverse reactions to medications.
Appropriately used, drugs can enhance the quality of life, but inappropriate drug use can cause great harm. As we age and our body changes, individualized therapy becomes increasingly important. It is not enough to simply settle for something taken “off the shelf,” or to use a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Not only do we respond to medications differently, but also our preferences regarding medication administration may change. Compounding pharmacists can have an impact on compliance by preparing products specifically designed for our aging bodies.
As we age the level of certain essential hormones begins to decline. We also become predisposed to degenerative brain disorders and memory disturbances, and our immune system begins to slow down. The result of the decline in function of these systems is: increased incidence of disease, lack of energy, depression, insomnia, a problems with smell, taste, sight and balance. Preventative therapy is important in order to improve the quality of our lives as we age by preventing disease, optimising our physical and mental health, and increasing energy, vitality and a sense of well being. This may be achieved by:
1. Maintaining a healthy diet – As you get older, it’s important to continue choosing healthy foods and enjoying eating as a social activity that you can look forward to. However as we get older our lifestyles and appetite can change and this can affect the types and amounts of foods we eat. A decreasing appetite or reduced ability to buy and prepare healthy foods can mean that many older people don’t get enough essential vitamins, mineral and fibre, and this can contribute to general unwellness or exacerbate some chronic illness. The main principles of maintaining a healthy diet are:
- Use less salt – Everyone requires a certain amount of salt, but too much can increase the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Drink more water – Water supports provides many vital functions in body, including hydration, digestion and blood volume, however as you age you may not feel thirsty as often, even when your body needs fluid. Aim to drink at least six times a day, and more in warmer weather or if you’re exercising. Tea, coffee, mineral water, soda water and reduced fat milk can all count towards your fluid intake during the day, but water is always best!
- Eat a low calorie diet – this will directly protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer and also help boost immunity.
- Vitamin and minerals – These can play a role for diagnosed deficiencies, which are not uncommon in older people as they may eat less, or have digestions issues due to illness or medication.
- Osteoporosis – is characterised by a decrease in bone density which increases the risk of fractures. It commonly affects older people, especially women after menopause. Fractures of the hip, leg and wrist are common amongst the elderly. Once calcium is lost from the bones it is difficult to replace, but there are ways to protect yourself against the progression of the disease, including getting enough calcium, fluoride and vitamin D, as well as exercise.
- Vitamin D – is also essential in helping to build and maintain healthy bones. The best source of vitamin D is the sun, but you only need to spend a short period of time in the sunshine each day, to help your body get the vitamin D that it needs.
2. Exercise – The aim of exercise should be to maintain and increase your muscle mass, prevent weight gain, maintain your cardiovascular system and to maintain flexibility. Weight-baring exercise such as walking or light weights also supports bone health.
3. Hormone Replacement – Monitoring our hormone levels and supplementing any deficient hormones. As we age a decline in the level of hormones predispose us to an array of chronic diseases. These include diabetes, osteoporosis, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer s disease, memory disturbances, menopause, andropause and the list goes on. There is now a growing body of evidence which indicates that by supplementing any deficient hormones to achieve physiological levels of a healthy thirty year old, not only will the risk of many of these diseases be significantly reduced but also a tremendous sense of well being, vitality and zest for life will occur. The first step is to determine your current hormone status. The most accurate method of performing this is through a saliva test. Once your hormone status has been analysed we can then formulate a bioidentical hormone replacement regimen to suit your individual requirements. Bio-identical hormones have an identical structure to the hormones found in your body. As a result our body recognises and utilises the hormones in a way which is consistent with the body’s normal physiology.
4. Nutritional Supplements – As we age the need for nutritional supplementation increases. We live is a world of high stress and many of us have busy lifestyles and poor dietary habits. Many older people don’t get enough fibre, essential vitamins and minerals. Your supplementation regime should include a potent and comprehensive multivitamin, multimineral, antioxidant, anti-glycation supplements, probiotics and some essential fatty acids.
The multivitamin and multiminerals must provide all the essential nutrients in sufficient quantities in order to maintain and renew your body. If even one is missing, or in short supply, then the functions of all the others are impaired.
Antioxidants protect against free radicals and are known to prevent many diseases. Antioxidants are essential in maintaining health, preserving brain function and enhance immune function. Your antioxidant regimen should contain all of the following: glutathione, selenium, Coenzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid and Vitamins A, C and E.
Fatty acids should be consumed regularly. They help maintain the hormone balance, They also protect the heart and immune system. They lower cholesterol and prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. The main benefit of these fatty acids is their ability to control inflammation which is a “silent killer” that can cause cardiovascular disease, arthritis, etc. The best way to supplement these essential fatty acids is to take a good quality mercury free fish oil supplement high in EPA every day.