28 Feb Osteoporosis in Older Adults
Osteoporosis, or porous bone, is a medical condition characterized by low bone mass and deterioration of bone tissue. Unfortunately, osteoporosis can lead to an increased risk of fracture of the hip, spine, and wrist. In general, for seniors, these fractures are not only physically debilitating but can potentially lead to a downward spiral in physical and mental health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25.5% of women 65 years of age and over have osteoporosis of the neck or lumbar area of the spine. For men in the same age group, just over 5% are living with the disease. In the United States, more than 53 million people either already have osteoporosis or are at high risk due to low bone mass.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
- Female over 65
- Caucasian or Asian
- Female in menopause
- Thin-boned females
- A close relative who has osteoporosis or has broken a bone
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Low calcium intake
- Long-term use of steroid medication
- Excessive alcohol use
It is recommended that all women over the age of 65 have a bone mineral density (BMD) screening. Your physician may recommend screening at an earlier age if you are at high risk for a fracture. A BMD can:
- Detect low bone density before a fracture occurs;
- Confirm a diagnosis of osteoporosis;
- Predict your chances of a future fracture;
- Determine your rate of bone loss, and monitor the effects of treatment if the test is conducted at intervals of a year or more.
Living with Osteoporosis
Even if you have already received a diagnosis of osteoporosis, you can take steps to slow further progress of the disease and reduce the risk of fractures:
- Take medications to strengthen your bones and avoid medications that can make your bones weaker;
- Eat a healthy diet which includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and avoids processed foods, white flour, and refined sugars;
- Talk to your doctor about adding calcium and vitamin D supplements;
- Perform weight-bearing exercises regularly. This includes walking, jogging, climbing, dancing, or lifting weights. While exercises such as swimming or cycling are good for your overall health they are not weight-bearing and will not help prevent further bone loss.
- Practice fall prevention tips;
- Do not smoke;
- Limit alcohol use.