How Acupuncture Can Benefit Seniors


The older we get, the more our bodies undergo various changes, both physically and mentally. And while the ageing process is completely normal and unavoidable, many of the changes we experience in old age can often end up leading to new health challenges and discomforts. 
So whether it be a lack of mobility or the development of chronic pain, what can those of us over 60 do to remain active, healthy, and as pain-free as possible in our later years? 

Aside from attending regular appointments with your doctor and following your GP’s advice, the role of holistic treatments - such as acupuncture, can also be useful when used as a complementary therapy for those going through the ageing process. But what is acupuncture, and how can it help improve your day-to-day life and overall health? Let’s take a look.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical technique, and generally involves the insertion of very thin needles into specific points on the body. Rooted in the philosophy of balancing the body's energy flow, or 'Qi', acupuncture aims to restore and maintain health by stimulating various points linked to different body functions. While this practice has been used for centuries to treat a range of ailments, it is becoming increasingly recognised in Western medicine for its therapeutic benefits.

For those going through the ageing process, acupuncture can be a particularly appealing option for holistic therapy; this is because it’s non-invasive and has minimal side effects, making it a viable alternative to conventional treatments such as certain medications or surgeries.

Can I Get Acupuncture on My Health Insurance?

If you have senior medical insurance in the UK, you may be able to access acupuncture treatment via your healthcare provider. Private healthcare companies like Bupa and Aviva both offer cover for Acupuncture, subject to a number of conditions and limitations. Generally, you’ll need to have a referral from your GP for acupuncture therapy, and you’ll need to opt for a therapist who is a member of one of the following organisations (and who is also recognised by the insurer):

  • Member or Fellow of the British Acupuncture Council (MBAcC or FBAcC)
  • British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS)
  • Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) 

There may also be other conditions that you’ll need to be aware of; for example, Bupa offer acupuncture therapy subject to the condition that your chosen therapist is “An acupuncturist, chiropractor or osteopath who is recognised by us.”

Please do note that healthcare providers can end up changing or amending their policies from time to time, so it’s always best to double check with your insurance provider and see what treatments are available with your plan. 

Benefits of Acupuncture for Seniors

Physiotherapist places needles on the shoulder of an older man

Pain Relief

One of the main benefits of acupuncture for seniors is pain relief, especially from chronic conditions like arthritis: acupuncture has been shown to reduce inflammation and stimulate the release of endorphins - aka our natural pain-relieving chemicals in the body - and this can lead to significant improvements in joint mobility and overall comfort. Combined with other measures tailored to caring for seniors over 60, acupuncture can help our elderly loved ones maintain a more active and independent lifestyle during the golden years.

Improved Sleep

Another significant benefit is improved sleep quality: studies show that seniors tend to experience reduced levels of REM sleep and slow-wave N-REM sleep, both of which are crucial for immune function, cognition, and emotional well-being. Acupuncture can help promote better and improved sleep by promoting relaxation, reducing stress, and even stimulate melatonin production. 

Digestive Health

Acupuncture also plays a role in enhancing digestive health: as digestion often becomes less efficient with age, acupuncture can aid in alleviating common issues like constipation or indigestion. 

Mental Health Benefits

Finally, acupuncture has long been proven to have a positive effect on mental health; regular treatments can aid in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, which are not uncommon in the elderly due to various life changes, social isolation and health issues.

Conditions and Concerns Relevant to Seniors

When considering acupuncture for seniors, it's essential to acknowledge the specific health conditions and concerns that are prevalent in this age group; for example, chronic pain conditions like osteoarthritis and neuropathy are common among the elderly and can be effectively managed with acupuncture. Additionally, age-related diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease might also benefit from the therapeutic effects of acupuncture, although more research is needed in these areas.

Safety Concerns

Like with any treatment for the elderly, safety is a primary concern when it comes to acupuncture. Fortunately, acupuncture is generally considered to be safe for seniors, provided that the treatment is performed by a qualified and experienced practitioner. However, it's nonetheless important for elderly patients to discuss their overall health and medical conditions with their acupuncturist before starting treatment. A brief overview of their medical history, as well as any ongoing conditions - will help the therapist determine the best - and safest - course of treatment. 

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, there’s no reason why acupuncture can’t play a significant role in enhancing the quality of life for the elderly; by offering a natural and effective way to address pain, improve sleep, and promote emotional well-being, it can be a great pathway towards a more holistic approach to tackling the ageing process.  

However, don’t forget that anyone over 60 considering acupuncture should first consult with their GP or healthcare provider, and should also make sure to choose a qualified acupuncturist for the most effective - and safest - treatment. It’s also important to note that pre-existing conditions are generally not covered by health insurance, so you’ll typically only be able to explore acupuncture with your PMI for a new condition. 

Related Posts

Get a quote!

Compare the best health and life insurance policies on the market by filling in the short form below.

We will be in touch shortly to run through your free tailor-made quote from UK’s leading insurers. Our prices won’t be beaten with our best price guarantee.

At Usay we take your data security very seriously and we will not sell your data to third parties. By clicking search now you agree to allow us to contact you regarding your free, no obligation quotation by email or phone. Please see our Privacy Policy and general terms.