Free Acupuncture Clinic Draws Seniors To Wise & Healthy Aging

Sunday, 29 Dec 2013, 9:32:00 AM

Mitch James

WISE and Healthy Aging's unique partnership with Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine brings pain relief, improved vitality to seniors and caregivers, and helps train advanced practitioners.
WISE and Healthy Aging's unique partnership with Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine brings pain relief, improved vitality to seniors and caregivers, and helps train advanced practitioners.

It’s Thursday morning, and Santa Monica resident Rose Kaufman, 99,

has an appointment to keep. It’s one she’s looked forward to each week

since July 2012, when she first began receiving acupuncture treatments

at WISE & Healthy Aging in downtown Santa Monica.

Kaufman is one of a number of seniors who receive treatments —

completely free of charge — at the WISE & Healthy Aging's Community

Acupuncture Clinic, a community service that the nonprofit, social

service organization offers in a unique collaboration with Culver

City-based Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

The Acupuncture Clinic has been in operation for a year and a half,

said President and CEO Grace Cheng Braun, with WISE & Healthy Aging

providing the space and administrative support, and Yo San University

bringing the medical supervision and graduate students who provide the

acupuncture treatments.

“It’s a win-win for both organizations,” Cheng Braun said. “As well

as for the students who complete valuable, specialized training and the

seniors and caregivers who receive relief from chronic pain and feel

increased energy as a result of the treatments."

With a goal of bringing affordable, subsidized acupuncture and

traditional Chinese medicine care to the Los Angeles Westside community

it serves.

Yo San University has many different community projects, including

partnerships with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles pain clinic, the

Being Alive HIV/AIDS clinic. and the Venice Family Clinic, according to

university Co-founder and Co-chancellor Daoshing Ni.

But the clinic at WISE & Healthy Aging is the only outpatient Yo

San program that works entirely with seniors, Dr. Dao said.

Dr. Dao said working with seniors requires special sensitivity.

“You have to be gentle, as some are very frail, and some bruise

easily," Dr. Dao said. " At the same time, seniors are pretty

determined, pretty strong and very committed. If they want to get care,

they’ll be there."

In practical terms, this means that, especially at the beginning, an

elderly patient may begin with as few as six or eight of the ultra-fine,

sterilized acupuncture needles being applied, whereas a more aggressive

treatment might utilize 30 or more, explained Lawrence Lau, the

university’s dean of Academic and Clinical Affairs in charge of the

master’s degree program.

Dr. Lau said the number of needles is increased as the individual feels more comfortable.

“People who get the treatment have enjoyed it,” Dr. Lau said. “They

may not get up off the table and start dancing, but they feel good.”

Dr. Lau and his colleagues have found that seniors’ initial reaction

to the idea of needles is about the same as in the general population.

Some are fine with the idea, some are a little wary, and others say, “No way!”

Rose Kaufman had no reluctance about the needles and trying out the WISE Acupuncture Clinic.

She was already getting acupuncture at UCLA when she learned about the new clinic, so recognized the benefit.

“It feels like you’re being needled, because you are!” she said.

“They use needles that connect the meridian with the area where the pain

is. So they really address your pain spots. For me, that is my whole

right side. The acupuncture helps me day by day."

When Kaufman and others come to the Thursday morning clinic for their

treatment, they are escorted to one of three treatment rooms set up in

the flexible space of the Edwards Center.

Here, the Yo San interns (two of them master’s degree students and

one a doctoral candidate) provide the approximately hour-long

treatments. They consist of a detailed history or current status

interview followed by careful placement of the acupuncture needles, and

then 20 to 30 minutes of very deep relaxation for the patient before the

needles are removed.

Sometimes this is followed by Qi Gong, a gentle form of Tai Chi stretching and movement especially well-suited to seniors.

The treatments are supervised by Brady Chin, an experienced

acupuncturist and martial arts expert who has a special rapport both

with the interns and the seniors they treat.

Since the program’s inception, 15 interns have completed their

“externships” at WISE & Healthy — an especially great bonus for the

doctoral students, who are specializing in healthy aging, said Yo San

President Lawrence J. Ryan.

“Our hope is that they’ll carry that experience with them, and as

they become licensed practitioners, some may choose to specialize in the

area,” Ryan said.

Kaufman thinks the students are already succeeding. So far, she’s

been treated by two of the doctoral candidates, and finds both of them

to be “excellent” and” knowledgeable.”

“They are very understanding — I guess the best word is

compassionate," Kaufman said. "Because people are coming in suffering,

and because they are hurting, sometimes they’re not all that pleasant.

But In this clinic, the practitioners are very efficient, very gentle,

and very kind.”

WISE & Healthy Aging’s Cheng Braun and Yo San University’s Drs.

Dao, Ryan and Lau hope that many more seniors and their families will

hear about the Acupuncture Clinic, and come for the no-fee treatments.

“There is no downside to acupuncture, and the benefit is enormous,”

Dr. Dao said. “It can help your body feel younger and feel less pain. I

definitely recommend everyone take advantage of it.”

To find out more about the WISE & Healthy Aging Acupuncture

Clinic, or to make an appointment, call 310.394.9871. Information is

also available online, at

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