World Osteoporosis Day on October 20 marks the importance of this wide-spread bone disease. Seniors are particularly at risk for low bone density and also suffer more intense injuries from falls. Unfortunately, bone-health is easy to overlook. Most people don’t put much thought into their car’s engine until the check engine light comes on — or worse, until smoke starts pouring out from under the hood. Of course, we all know that regular oil changes and maintenance are the keys to a healthy engine. But it’s easy to let things slip by the wayside as long as our vehicles seem to be running fine.
Bone health is much the same. Our bones may shape our bodies and allow us to move, but we mostly only think about them when they break. But the truth of the matter is that most of us should do a lot more to maintain our bone health long before problems arise. Those who do not take steps to care for their bones run the risk of serious complications later. If you’re concerned about keeping your bones healthy, it’s a good idea to act on that concern long before the metaphorical check engine light comes on.
Osteoporosis is a Common Concern
Osteoporosis is a bone disease characterized by extremely porous or brittle bones. In advanced stages, osteoporosis can cause fractures from a minor bump or even a sneeze. The effects can become quite serious and eventually fatal. Osteoporosis can sharply increase the chance of suffering a hip fracture, and one in three older adults die within twelve months after such an injury.
Osteoporosis currently affects millions of people across the world, and many more are at risk of developing it. Worldwide, osteoporosis results in a fracture every three seconds. Around 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and 44 million have low bone density. In America, 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men will suffer a broken bone as a result of osteoporosis. Though poor bone health is common and dangerous, many people are not aware that they need to counteract it. In fact, osteoporosis is a “silent disease,” for its effects are invisible until they cause a potentially dangerous fracture.
Osteoporosis is of special concern to seniors, who are at high risk for low bone density and suffer more intense injuries from falls. However, 80 percent of older Americans who suffer bone breaks are not tested or treated for osteoporosis. If you’re over 50 and have broken a bone, ask your doctor for a bone density test. However, if you haven’t broken a bone recently, don’t get cocky: it’s better to take precautions early. By the time the warning signs for low bone density arrive, it could already be too late. Though living with a caregiver can ensure seniors get medical attention for a broken bone fast, it’s better to prevent injuries in the first place.
Seniors Can Improve Bone Strength
However frightening the effects of osteoporosis can be, the disease is both preventable and manageable. There are many steps seniors can take to keep bones strong and avoid a terrible fracture. If you currently have healthy bones, your actions now can maintain them through life. If you know your bones are beginning to weaken, it’s not too late to protect yourself from the worst effects.
Experts recommend several solutions to people concerned about their bone health:
- Calcium: It may be the stereotypical bone supplement, but that’s because it works. Most men and women over 50 need about 1,200 mg or more of calcium per day.
- Vitamin D: This vitamin is like calcium’s essential side-kick, helping the body absorb the bone-bolstering properties calcium provides.
- Healthy Diet: Eating well has a number of health benefits across the board, and healthier bones is one of them. Aim for leafy greens, milk, fatty fish, and other foods naturally high in vitamin D and calcium.
- Exercise: Load-bearing exercises, in particular, can help keep bone tissue dense while maintaining balance and muscle tone.
Caregivers Can Help with Treatments and Safety
Bone health is too important to trust to chance. Sometimes a helping hand around the house can make all the difference. A caregiver in the home can help seniors skip activities that might pose a risk for a fall, such as reaching for high shelves or going up stairs. They can also monitor seniors throughout the day so that help for a serious fracture will arrive as quickly as possible. Seniors who live alone are at an even greater risk of not getting immediate help when they suffer a fall. If badly injured and unable to get to a phone, seniors are entirely dependent on someone finding them before it’s too late. With a caregiver, there’s always someone to call an ambulance when you need it most.
Caregivers can also guide seniors in their treatment regimen to battle the effects of osteoporosis. Since healthy bones are the work of a lifetime, it never hurts to have someone keeping you on track.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.