Dr. James C. Spaulding

Chiropractor - Edinboro, Pa.

Instrument Adjusting Certified
106 Waterford Street • Edinboro Pa 16412 • Send E-Mail
Phone: (814) 734-3422
Geriatric Syndrome
What it is and why it may be taking us earlier than necessary.

We all have an elderly relative who has fallen, only to take a sharp and sudden turn into a “death march”.

When I was just a young boy (in the mid-fifties) I was fortunate enough to have two great-grandmothers. I met them both, but got to know my mother’s paternal grand-mother better because she lived with my grandparents. She was a sweet and gentle woman, full of wit and wisdom, but the thing that amazed me most was the fact that, at the age of 92 she would walk, daily, several blocks to the “old folks” home, reading and visiting with them (most of them younger than herself.)

One day word came that she had fallen, at age 96, and broken a hip. Our whole family drove to Kentucky to see her one last time. I reluctantly visited her bedside (people still died at home in those days) where she looked almost as small as a child. She didn’t know me, and was talking as though it were 50 or more years prior. She died the day we were to leave.

This had a lasting effect on me as a kid.

Just a few years ago, my 88 year-old mother-in-law, who was living with us, began to show increasing signs of dementia. One night, just after midnight, she got up, dressed, and started down the steps from her upstairs room, only to fall headlong and face first to the floor. We awoke suddenly to find her lying in a pool of blood. Fortunately, she had only broken some facial bones and, according to the CT scan, had not developed a cerebral hemorrhage. Nevertheless, she ended up in the nursing home and died just over a year later.

This general scenario is all too common. What gives? Frailty is just part of the aging process, you say? Is that true?

Okay, to one extent or another, the degenerative processes work steadily and relentlessly on all of us as we age. Depending on many factors, including our genetic heritage, these changes are grouped into various clinical scenarios called Geriatric Syndromes.

Geriatric Syndromes include the loss of muscle power, strength and endurance owing to age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass (just another name for frailty,) and some or all of the other related aspects of the “Vicious Cycle of Aging.”

  • excess visceral, or belly-fat (closely related to loss of lean muscle mass)
  • sugar-handling problems, like insulin-resistance and Type-2 diabetes
  • chronic inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, atherosclerosis and diverticulitis, and,
  • cardio-vascular disease

Research is showing that a loss of muscle strength, by itself, is a strong indicator of increased mortality risk. Add one or more other common age-related things and the risk begins to rise dramatically.

Depending on your age and health-status you can see this train a’ comin’ (to quote Johnny Cash)…can’t you?

What can I do to slow this runaway train?

It all boils down to what you eat and how you move. But, if I could get you to take action in one area it would be to begin increase strength and stamina through resistance weight training. Number two would be to strengthen your cardiovascular system by starting a program of interval training (aerobic-type exercise.) Number three would be to reduce your waist line (to below 40 inches if you are male, 35 inches if you are female.)

That’s it! The sooner you recognize this train is real and rollin’ ‘round the bend, the sooner you can get off the tracks.

Dr. Jim Spaulding is a full-time practicing chiropractor of 37 years. He has written numerous articles on the subject of diet and exercise.

© 2013 Dr James C. Spaulding. All Rights Reserved.