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Camryn Walsh Zappaterra and Mauro Walsh Zappaterra
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices are frequently used in the U.S. by older adults for helping to improve quality of life (QOL); however, little attention has been paid to research on CAM modalities and QOL in older adults. We reviewed the literature to help determine CAM modalities that increased QOL in older adults. Due to the paucity of literature the authors also included reviews on CAM modalities that helped improve sleep and pain in older adults, understanding that both are important factors in QOL. The research showed promising results for chiropractic, massage therapy, and yoga as positively impacting QOL. Other CAM modalities such as acupressure, acupuncture, auricular acupuncture therapy, hypnosis, mindfulness meditation, music therapy, reiki therapy, tai chi, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) are potentially viable CAM options for certain older adults in positively impacting pain and sleep. Limitations to the research included small samples sizes, difficulty in follow-up research designs to understand the long-term effect of CAM practices, and insufficient randomization and/or control groups. With the tremendous growth in the U.S. geriatric population over the next decade more attention to QOL and CAM modalities might become a significant factor in healthy aging, which is an important next step in health care. The electronic version of this manuscript has links to educative resources on the Internet for practitioners and individuals interested in learning more about specific CAM modalities; the bolded topics are links to online definitions.