Osteoporosis is a loss of bone density among older adults that can lead to disability, painful fractures, and deformity. While the bone size and heredity can affect the development of osteoporosis, it is often possible to delay, prevent, or reduce bone loss through healthy senior living. Continue reading to find out more about osteoporosis in older adults.
Osteoporosis in Older Adults
Osteoporosis affects both genders but it is more frequent among women. It is estimated that about one out of eight men and one out of four women over the age of 50 years have osteoporosis. Bones renew naturally on a constant basis but as we age, this process becomes less efficient and results in a loss in bone mineral density. It is termed as osteopenia when bone mineral density becomes lower than normal but not low enough to be categorized as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis causes bones to become very weak and thin over time which raises the risk of fracture. The ailment is often regarded as a silent thief as a bone loss takes place without symptoms. Weak bones caused by osteoporosis can affect even the simplest of movements such as bending over or sneezing.
Osteoporosis Health Effects
Spine, wrist, and hip fractures are the most common injuries that are associated with osteoporosis. Bone fractures that occur in these regions as a result of a fall from a height are known as fragility fractures. Hip fractures caused by osteoporosis are serious and less than 50% of older adults who suffer from this injury experience functional recovery while also leaving many permanently disabled. Osteoporosis usually has no warning signs until a fracture happens. However, you can still delay, prevent, and treat the ailment.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
Women are especially at risk of osteoporosis. Upon reaching menopause, estrogen levels drop dramatically, thus providing lower support to keep women’s bones healthy. Bone loss is common for women in menopause. There is hormone replacement therapy to help reduce the drop in estrogen levels during menopause which can help prevent and correct bone loss. However, the therapy may involve adverse health effects which can include an increased risk of breast cancer. Men may have a greater bone mass than women but they are not exempted from osteoporosis risk. Apart from age, here are some other factors that will increase your risk of developing osteoporosis:
- Family history
- Low in calcium diet
- Low body weight
- Early menopause or removal of ovaries without hormone replacement
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Reaching past menopause
- Long-term oral use of medications like prednisone, cortisone, or anticonvulsants
- Excessive caffeine intake
Minimizing Risk of Osteoporosis
- Eat Well: Maintain a nutritious diet and stay active to reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Include Calcium: Calcium can be found not just in milk and other dairy products but is also found in beans, sardines, sesame seeds, greens, rhubarb, and figs
- Take Vitamin D: Calcium cannot be absorbed into the body without Vitamin D. A daily Vitamin supplement of 400 IU is recommended
- Stay Active: When you remain active through exercising, your bones will stay healthy
- Avoid Smoking: Smokers have more rapid bone loss
- Prevent Falls: Wear comfortable shoes and be careful of your steps