Brian Hester, DC, Anthem, AZ, graduated from Life University (Georgia) in 1999 with his Doctorate of Chiropractic. He decided to make the move to Anthem, AZ in 2003 to begin to serve the residents of Anthem and surrounding communities. Dr. Hester is known in the community as an active educator on chiropractic care and regularly holds community workshops to get people interested in the benefits of healthy lifestyle modification.
We asked Dr. Hester to explain the benefits of chiropractic care for seniors.
Dr. Hester, tell us why you recommend chiropractic adjustments for senior citizens.
Dr. Hester: The reality is that most people in today’s society sit too long and they don’t put enough effort in moving more. Specifically in my office, we focus on getting people to improve their mobility. Picture this: it’s like driving your car with the emergency brake engaged. If you’ve been sedentary, as a lot of seniors and retirees are, a lot of the day is planned around what’s on TV and when the next meal is. They become deconditioned and everything in their body gets really tight. When that happens, they start to experience pain because they have lost their mobility.
Do you approach or adjust older individuals differently than you would their younger counterparts?
Dr. Hester: In my particular practice we use a customized wellness tool which looks at over twenty five different touch points of your physiology. It doesn’t discriminate as to how old you are. We identify their weak areas and cater our recommendations towards strengthening those weak areas.
Typically what we see in older patients and seniors is the fact that that are not moving well, not exercising well and their body has just become very deconditioned. Our recommendations tend to focus more on getting those people active again and modifying their diets. Typically a lot of people that are younger don’t have a problem with mobility yet and they haven’t been in a job that causes repetitive stress in the wrong direction for 30, 40 even 50 years. So in my particular practice we focus on what an individual needs when they fall short on their initial evaluation.
I’ve noticed you have a program in your practice called “ 8 Weeks To Wellness.” Could you elaborate on that?
Dr. Hester: 8 Weeks To Wellness is a program that we use with our patients. It’s a scripted program, I call it scripting the critical moves. Each participant gets a customized wellness score and we can determine where he or she scores poorly. It takes into account their body composition, a mobility screening, core strength assessment, blood work, blood pressure, and medication usage.
8 Weeks To Wellness is a structured program that actually teaches the patients the critical steps to get their health back. Most people don’t go to a doctor because they are in pain. They go to a doctor because their problem is affecting their life in a negative way. Their problem, per se, is keeping them from doing something they like to do. It could be golf or any other activity they enjoy.
We use 8 Weeks To Wellness and design a customized program for them to script the critical moves over a two-month period. The idea is to not only take care of their pain but also increase their energy and stamina for doing everyday things.
Let’s talk a little bit about the misconceptions seniors might have about getting adjusted by a chiropractor. What are some of the most common ones you see?
Dr. Hester: In my practice a lot of people show up because nothing else has worked, meaning they have tried medication, some have even tried surgery. One of the biggest misconceptions I have seen with seniors is that they have been in a medical model and they are very used to someone saying, “You have X so let me give you a pill for that.”
In my office I tell patients they have a problem but it’s not due to a lack of medication, it’s a structural problem. A lot of people come in thinking they don’t have to do anything other than show up. The biggest misconception when it comes to seniors is that they just assume that aging is just something that people have to go through. What I can tell you is that people age differently. I can show you a seventy-year-old person who uses a walker or wheelchair because they are deconditioned. I can also show you a seventy year old who runs five to ten miles a day and has been doing that for the last twenty years. Age is simply a number, it’s all about what we do with what we have.
So if I’m understanding you correctly a lot of medications are not getting to the core of the problems they are masking the symptoms. Is that correct?
Dr. Hester: What you have to understand is that nobody makes the decision that today is the day I want to start using a walker or a wheelchair. What people don’t understand is that everything you do today affects your health five, ten and twenty years from now. We have to be making a lot more “health deposits” than we do “health withdrawals.” There will come a time in our lives when we are sick and we have to make withdrawals and we need to have those deposits already in the bank.
When we eat the wrong types of foods and we don’t hydrate well and don’t exercise on a regular basis, our body composition get out of sorts, we get increased fat on our bodies and we lose lean muscle mass. When you look at a person who is aging well in the senior age bracket, one of the things you see is that they have more lean muscle tissue compared to their counterparts who can’t support their own selves against gravity.
Can you site for me some success cases of seniors who have come to you that have turned around their health?
Dr. Hester: Sure, we had a gentleman who came in just yesterday who had knee replacement surgery and he was put through rehab. This gentleman had been overweight for about twenty years of his life. When we started looking at his overall health assessment and looking at this weak area, we determined one of the things that made his knee wear out was that he was overweight for so long.
He had his knee replaced, which improved a weak point, but his overall health had not improved. He has a lot of mobility issues and came in for lower back problems. Within a couple of adjustments we were able to take care of his pain and get him on the right path with some exercise.
I had a 66 year old female who just finished our 8 Weeks To Wellness Program just yesterday. In eight weeks of monitoring what she ate, exercising and getting chiropractic care, these were her results: she lowered her triglycerides by 100 points, she lowered her cholesterol by 60 points, she lowered her blood pressure by 30 points and she did that naturally without any medication.
What about pre-existing conditions? Do you find seniors are initially hesitant to be treated?
Dr. Hester: A lot of what I get with the senior generation is that they have spinal stenosis. That is simply that your spine is degenerating because you are not moving. One of the unique things about my practice is that we do a motion study x-ray. We take an x-ray to show that patient which vertebrae are actually moving and which are in a stuck position. I ask my patients which drug or pill is actually going to move that bone? You have to get those bones moving again.
There’s four things in life you can’t live without. Food, water, oxygen and your nervous system. We express our entire life through our nervous system. Everything we feel, everything we smell and everything we taste. When your brain can’t communicate with your body properly, your body starts to break down and then we have what most people know as symptoms.
Unfortunately most people spend their entire lives chasing their symptoms. Their symptoms are the last thing to ever happen and the first thing to go away. When that problem comes back it’s a little more uncomfortable and it lasts a little bit longer than it did last time and that indicates a structural problem. A lot of people get very consumed with chasing the symptoms and that’s where they get the preconceived notion of having a pre-existing condition and not being a candidate for chiropractic care. Anyone who has a spine is a candidate for chiropractic care.
What is a good source of information for seniors wanting to learn more about chiropractic adjustments?
Dr. Hester: I can explain it in two different ways. I think we need two healthcare providers in our life. We definitely need a sick care provider. When I say a sick care provider, we need crisis care, when we have a trauma we need that taken care of. We also need a healthcare provider, I consider myself a true healthcare provider and one of the things I would tell patients is, if you’ve been seeing the same doctor for ten years and over the last ten years your medication usage has increased, then I would say you’re not getting any healthier you’re moving more towards sickness.
A good source is somebody that can actually talk to that patient about health and give them some information about lifestyle so they can become responsible for their own self.
Dr. Hester can be reached at his Back To Health chiropractic clinic by calling (623) 551-6677. His business website is http://www.MyAnthemChiro.com.