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Elderly take strength from a medical mix




Traditional medicine can work well for elderly people with treatments for cancer and chronic illnesses, according to Hong Kong Baptist University Chinese medicine experts.
And that is a key finding as more than 70 percent of people aged 65 or above have a long-term illness, according to the Hong Kong Council of Social Service.
Elderly people have a reduced metabolism, said Li Min, an associate professor in the clinical wing of Baptist U's School of Chinese Medicine, and "sometimes the side effects of a conventional medicine for a chronic illness may outweigh the effects it delivers."
However, traditional Chinese medicine is moderate and focuses on toning the foundation of the body, she said, and the results can be excellent when combined with conventional medicine. For instance, she said, treatments can be especially helpful for patients in the later stages of cancer.
Apart from benefits to be gained herbal medicines, Li added, people with cardiovascular diseases and those who suffered strokes can be helped by acupuncture, which promotes blood circulation and meridian flows. But patients need to be persistent as the effects of Chinese medicine are unlikely to be seen quickly.
A Mr Tsang, 69, said he had coughed for decades and was diagnosed with a chronic pulmonary disease in 2009.
"I coughed so much I could not finish a sentence," he said. "I'd develop tracheitis and pneumonia every time I caught flu."
His problems were controlled by conventional medicine, he said, but he started sweating heavily during sleep. So on top of his regular treatment he was given help at a Baptist U Chinese medicine clinic. That led to both his cough and heavy sweating easing considerably. Tsang also said that costs could be a burden.
On that, Bian Zhaoxiang, director of the school's clinical division, said a case like Tsang's could cost from HK$2,000 to HK$3,000 to treat a month. And a scheme under the Lions Club and Baptist U's Chinese Medicine Charity Foundation aided Tsang.
Rolled out in 2007, the scheme has helped 3,000 elderly people with HK$100 vouchers for treatment at the Chinese medicine clinics, and sufferers of chronic conditions can benefit with additional vouchers.
The scheme's 10th anniversary is being marked with a Chinese medicine day on September 19 and 22, when free services will be offered to 1,000 elderly.

By  Carain Yeung

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