Preventing and Managing Osteoporosis in Seniors
Osteoporosis is an important health condition that everyone should be aware of as they enter their senior years. This condition is a common problem in older adults and increases the risk of dangerous fractures. Osteoporosis affects millions of seniors across the globe, but it is a silent condition that often develops undetected until it causes a serious fracture.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes your bones to become weak and brittle. Your bones are constantly in a state of balance, creating new bone and breaking down old bone simultaneously. Osteoporosis occurs when this process gets out of balance, causing the body to either lose too much bone, make too little bone, or a combination of both.
Osteoporosis symptoms are often invisible until a fall or sudden strain causes a fracture. The risks of fractures caused by osteoporosis include impaired mobility, decreased quality of life, and can even shorten your life span.
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, one in two women and one in four men over the age of 50 will break a bone due to osteoporosis. These statistics are even higher for those with fewer financial resources, where access to healthcare and preventive measures may be limited.
How Do You Prevent Osteoporosis?
There are many ways to help prevent osteoporosis. Regular exercise, especially weight-bearing activities, can significantly improve bone health and reduce your risk of osteoporosis. A balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can also help keep your bones in optimal condition. Avoiding alcohol, smoking, and caffeine can further improve your bone health and help prevent osteoporosis.
How Is Osteoporosis Diagnosed?
Diagnosing osteoporosis almost always involves a bone density scan, known as a DEXA scan, which measures the density of your bones. This test detects the amount of bone mineral in a given volume of bone, allowing your doctor to diagnose osteoporosis and assess your risk of fractures. Because osteoporosis doesn’t cause major symptoms, DEXA scans are good for those over 65. Regular check-ups can help catch this silent disease early and potentially prevent the complications that it can create.
How Do You Manage Osteoporosis?
Managing osteoporosis typically involves making lifestyle changes and using medication. Your doctor is likely to prescribe bisphosphonates, which slow bone loss. Many other medications may also be prescribed. These depend on the underlying cause of your osteoporosis and what is most likely to work for you.
Treatment for osteoporosis doesn’t just involve medication. Physical therapy can help you maintain your bone strength. Fall prevention measures are also important, helping to protect you from the risk of fractures and injuries. Small changes, like securing loose rugs, improving lighting in your home, and installing grab bars in your bathroom, can reduce your fall risk.
Managing osteoporosis might seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Assistance programs help make affordable medications available, and many exercises for improving bone health can be done at home for no cost.
Living with Osteoporosis
Those with osteoporosis don’t have to live in fear of fractures. By making lifestyle changes and following medical instructions, you can manage this condition and decrease your risk of fractures. Keep in mind that osteoporosis is a silent disease, often not affecting you until it causes significant problems. Here at ChenMed, we can help you test for it, catching it early while it is still easy to treat. With proper help and support from your healthcare providers, it is entirely possible to manage osteoporosis and significantly reduce the risk of fractures it can cause.