Older adults and patients with multiple chronic diseases have been increasingly drawn to the Complementary or alternative medicine (CAM) therapy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 36% of adults in the United States use some form of CAM therapy. Many older adults with chronic conditions often use CAM for self-care and disease management, despite having limited knowledge. Healthcare providers can offer considerable assistance to older adults by assisting them to use CAM wisely and appropriately.
Interest in CAM may come from an experience of adverse side-effects with pharmacologic treatments that have been used either for symptomatic relief or to slow the progress of a disease. For many these drugs may be hard to tolerate. Many older adults have turned to CAM therapies for treating their conditions, as they believe that CAM therapies are generally more “natural” and safer than conventional medicines. Some even feel that CAM therapies provide greater relief of symptoms and that CAM is best for overall health and wellness.