In senior health, what is the value of conventional medicine and alternative medicine?
Many people ask if one is better than the other. Indeed, this is a hotly debated topic among physicians, patients and other interested parties.
There is a study that shows, that seniors are used to using what we call alternative medicines. Why is this? Possibly because in their own childhood there was very little conventional medicine. Perhaps it was very expensive, or they lived then in a less developed country. In those cases, natural materials and alternative systems were the medicines.
Move forwards a few decades, to today’s antiseptic hospitals, knowledgeable doctors and a confusing number of medicines.
You can see how the chasm developed.
Note: Please do not rely on this article to make any medical decisions. This article is a relatively shallow discussion of the matter. There are many important aspects in the discussion that have not been touched upon.
Each to Their Own?
Many conventional physicians do not want to hear about complementary or alternative medicine. They refer to complementary and alternative medicines as having “unsubstantiated” claims. Perhaps this is because of a lack of scientific research.
Is more research being carried out in this field?
Yes, there is movement towards greater research in alternative medicines.
In the past when research was carried out, it was not funded sufficiently, and the research was flawed. We can expect better, more accurate studies.
One study pointed out the importance of spreading the results of any study done in this field. Alternative health practitioners and conventional clinicians must become aware of the results of studies.
Shortcomings of Alternative Medicines
The first question people ask when discussing alternative medicines is: “Do they actually work?”
Perhaps, the real question is “Do they work in a predictable way for each person?”
The fact that the treatments are not clinically proven is what worries most people.
A study asked people why they choose to use alternative medicines. The result? People responded that alternative medicine is less “authoritarian”, and they feel they have more choice and control over what will be done for their health.
Universal Acceptance of Conventional Medicine
Conventional medicine is more or less accepted globally. Doctor across the globe who talk about a certain drug, talk about the same chemical formula. The reason is, that conventional medicines are standard.
There is strict supervision on a medical and legal level as to exactly what a drug contains and what it may be used for.
Alternative medicine, on the other hand, are often natural, sometimes from localized materials. Treatments are often individualized, by combining different amounts of formulae. While this can make the medicine much more effective on an individual level, it is difficult to make the materials ‘fit in the box’ in the same way that conventional medicine has managed to do.
Shortcomings in Conventional Medicine?
Yes, unfortunately, errors occur in the arena of conventional medicine. Doctors are human too; they can do but their best. Medical staff need to keep learning; there are so many advances, it can be difficult to keep abreast of medical news.
It happens also even in today’s world with supply-on-demand, sometimes there are shortages of solutions and medicines. Doctors may sometimes have to substitute one type of medicine for another. Then they may decide to use an additional medicine to counteract unwanted side effects. Sometimes the medicines prescribed to a patient seem to be endless.
Conventional medicine is the product of tremendous human effort and discovery. There are financial matters to consider. The market for pharmaceuticals is one of push-supply, based on the assumption that there is great customer demand.
Sometimes people ask, “Who creates that demand for expensive medicines? Patients or doctors?”
The Nature of Senior Health and Why the Use of Conventional Medicine
Seniors are by nature, more delicate in health. Things that the body could deal with in a person’s younger years, could be a real medical issue in one’s older years.
This means that any medical personnel treating senior has to take a lot more care when deciding what treatment to use. A doctor will choose what to him seems the least risky for the patient (and perhaps for his own reputation too).
Patient preferences are lower in the list of what matters; perceived safety issues have to come first. If a patient expresses a differing opinion, medical staff cover themselves. They give warnings that the doctor or hospital is not to blame for unexpected outcomes.
Is there Room for Compromise? Peace between the Parties?
Let’s make a few points about compromise:
- It is important that patients hear and understand what the doctor says, before making any decisions.
- No patient should cease taking a medicine without discussing it with their doctor. Nor should a patient refuse a medication without good grounds.
- There are certain alternative treatments that can safely work together with a conventional medicine. No fights here.
- For other alternative medicines, there must be a good amount of transparency and trust between the parties.
Conventional medicine and alternative medicine can both have a place in health and curing. For seniors, individuals and care-people should take extra care. Being open to discussion can help every person seeking to advance in their healthcare, whether it is through conventional medicine or alternative medicine.