Learn the Facts About Osteoporosis in Seniors

Exercise is an important part of everyone's everyday health

Visiting Care Giving Services’ Chesterfield home care experts can help seniors take steps to prevent and live safely with osteoporosis.

Many people think that weak, brittle bones are simply a part of the aging process. However, this is not necessarily the case. While some bone loss is inevitable with age, osteoporosis isn’t.

Osteoporosis is a condition that occurs when the body loses more bone density than it creates. This condition makes bones brittle and more susceptible to fractures and breaks. Osteoporosis in seniors is not uncommon, but there are several ways to prevent it.

Symptoms

In the early stages of bone loss, there typically are no symptoms. Over time, however, as bones are weakened by osteoporosis, older adults may experience the following signs and symptoms:

  • Back pain
  • Gradual loss of height
  • A slumped posture
  • Bones that fracture or break easier than expected

Causes and Risk Factors

Osteoporosis affects both men and women, but it occurs most often in women­ who are past menopause. When people are young, the body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, which increases bone mass. As a person ages, this process slows, and eventually, the body loses bone mass faster than it is created.

The likelihood of developing osteoporosis is partially dependent on how much bone mass an older adult attained during his or her youth. The higher the peak bone mass, the more an individual has to lose, and the less likely the senior is to develop osteoporosis.

Additional common risk factors that are beyond a person’s control include:

  • Gender: Women are far more likely to develop osteoporosis than men.
  • Age: Aging increases the risk of osteoporosis.
  • Race: People who are of Asian or Caucasian descent are at a greater risk.
  • Genetics: A family history of osteoporosis places individuals at higher risk.
  • Body size: People who have small body frames tend to be at a higher risk as they have less bone mass to use up as they age.
  • Certain medical conditions: The risk for osteoporosis is greater in people with certain medical conditions, including celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney or liver disease, cancer, lupus, multiple myeloma, and rheumatoid arthritis.

There are other risk factors that individuals can control, including:

  • Low calcium intake
  • Tobacco use
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Prevention Strategies

Preventing osteoporosis in seniors is an important part of healthy aging. Good nutrition and exercise are keys for keeping bones healthy. Other strategies include:

  • Getting plenty of protein: Protein is one of the main building blocks of bone. Meat is a primary source, as well as nuts, seeds, and legumes. Older adults may not eat enough protein due to problems with chewing or a number of other issues. If protein consumption is a problem, talk to the senior’s doctor to discuss how to supplement protein.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Being either underweight or overweight can increase a person’s risk of fractures, so it is important to maintain a healthy bodyweight.
  • Consuming enough calcium: Calcium is important for bone health. People between 18 and 50 years of age need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day, and that amount increases to 1,200 for women 50 and over and men 70 and over.
  • Getting enough vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. People can get some vitamin D from sunlight, but to get enough to maintain bone health, supplements are recommended.  Adults 51 to 70 should get 600 IU of vitamin D per day through food or supplements. Those over 70 should get 800 IU per day.
  • Exercising regularly: Regular exercise helps the body build strong bones and slow bone loss. Strength training and weight-bearing exercises are recommended.

If an older adult you love has osteoporosis, the Chesterfield home care team at Visiting Care Giving Services can provide a fall prevention assessment to help increase safety and peace of mind.

Our caregivers can also help seniors lower their risk of developing osteoporosis through meal planning, assistance with exercise, ensuring medications and supplements are taken, and more. Contact us at our St. Charles, MI office today at (636) 493-9058 or our Fairview Heights, IL office at (618) 366-9058 to learn more about how our home care team can help a senior you love. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.