A Senior Healthcare Guide to Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is one of the most common health conditions facing seniors, with the National Osteoporosis Foundation estimating that 52 million Americans are currently affected. This condition carries significant risks as it makes bones more brittle and easily broken or damaged, increasing the risk of serious slip and fall injuries for seniors. Here is a health care guide to this common condition from senior living service providers in Sussex County.

What is osteoporosis? 

The bones in your skeleton are made up of living tissue that, like the tissue in the rest of your body, is continuously replaced with new cells in order to stay strong and healthy. Osteoporosis occurs when the body is unable to replace bone tissue at the same rate that old cells are removed, making bones weaker, more brittle and prone to breaking.

Osteoporosis can be preceded by osteopenia, a condition characterized by low bone density. Treatment can vary for the different conditions, but common treatments and lifestyle changes can benefit patients with either of these health issues.

What causes osteoporosis?

This health condition doesn’t have a specific cause and is not a result of a disease – rather, it occurs in people who either suffer from a preexisting bone mass issue or as a result of low bone mass due to age and other risk factors.

Our bone mass peaks in youth and starts to decline as we age. The more bone mass you acquire during your youth, the less likely you are to be affected by osteoporosis. 

The most important risk factors for acquiring this condition include:

  • Gender – women are more likely to be affected than men
  • Age – the older you get, the more likely you are to be affected
  • Race – osteoporosis is more common in people of Caucasian and Asian descent
  • Family history – you are more at risk if direct family members suffer from low bone mass or osteoporosis
  • Small body frame – the smaller your body frame, the more likely you are to develop the condition
  • Thyroid hormone overproduction and low sex hormones
  • Low calcium intake and eating disorders
  • Long-term steroid use
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol

How is osteoporosis treated?

Your doctor will perform a bone mass test to measure the severity of the osteoporosis and how quickly it is advancing. This will help determine the best treatment plan for your needs.

The most commonly prescribed medication for this condition is administering bisphosphonates either intravenously or in pill form. Often, these are scheduled in a quarterly or weekly injection or as a weekly or monthly pill according to what best suits the patient’s needs.

Other forms of treatment for osteoporosis include hormone-related therapy and other medications for people intolerant of bisphosphonates.

Patients can also make certain lifestyle changes to try and slow the progression of the condition, including quitting smoking and participating in weight-bearing exercise routines.

Preventing osteoporosis

Keeping bones healthy is a priority for seniors as it prevents serious injuries and fractures that can be slow to heal and difficult to treat. The best ways to prevent this condition include:

  • Increasing your intake of calcium and vitamin D. According to the Mayo Clinic, after 50 years-of-age, your calcium intake should increase to 1,200 milligrams a day. This can be done through supplements and dairy products or by eating dark green leafy vegetables, salmon, soy products and orange juice.
  • Getting regular exercise as recommended by your doctor. This could include walking, jogging, gardening, aerobics, yoga, or dancing. It’s important that these exercises are weight-bearing which affects your joints, and stimulates bone health.

Community-based senior living solutions for an independent lifestyle 

United Methodist Communities at Bristol Glen, offers a wide range of tailored support services for older adults in an environment that delivers the highest quality of life. Designed to enhance independence, our independent senior living facilities are designed to assist your loved one only when they require it, and to scale these services at any point if they require a higher level of care. In addition to catering to independent seniors, we are also able to provide expert memory support services and care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, as well as patients with conditions such as osteoporosis.

For more information, please contact United Methodist Communities at Bristol Glen in Sussex County today and ask about our continuing care retirement communities.