Taking care of your health includes bone health. Osteoporosis and low bone mass are very serious health issues.People do not realize the incidence of osteoporosis is greater than that of heart attack, stroke and breast cancer for women and greater than prostate cancer for men. 2 44 million Americans suffer from Osteoporosis or low bone mass. This is equal to 55% of people 55 years and older. (1) “Osteoporosis is responsible for 2 million broken bones every year in the U.S., but most people don’t start paying attention to their bone health until after they’ve broken a bone.” Amy Porter, CEO of the the National Osteoporosis Foundation (2). It is so important to educate yourself on the prevention of osteoporosis and bone loss. And just as important, if you suffer from either than you must educate yourself regarding the diagnosis and treatment options. What is osteoporosis? It is a bone disease that occurs when the body loses too much bone, or makes too little bone, or both. As a result bones become weak and may break. (3)
As people age, it is vital to stay healthy. This is an obvious statement to most of us. What is not necessarily obvious is that this includes bone health. There are several key components to bone health. First, regular exercise is so important. Does this mean doing yoga every day or running a marathon? The answer is of course not! Exercise should fit the person’s age and ability as well as a doctor’s advice. Exercise can be a walk around the neighborhood in warm months and around the local shopping mall when cold. Perhaps exercise means lifting tiny weights several times a week for arm strength. Again, a doctor would be the best judge of appropriate exercise. Second, good nutrition is a huge contributor to healthy bones.
Eating foods with recommended amounts of vitamin D and calcium is vital. Foods such as tuna, salmon and dairy products (cheese, egg yolks, spinach and kale) are calcium rich foods. Additionally, foods that are calcium fortified such as: breakfast cereals, oatmeal and orange juice are great as well. As with exercise, it is so important to discuss dietary needs with a physician.
Third, good balance and posture are important for bone health. The National Aging in Place website provides wonderful examples of exercises. Some exercises they recommend can be done at home. First, walking a straight line- put a rope on the ground, tied to two chairs and try and walk on it without stepping off. Make sure to have someone next to you while doing this exercise. Second, spread your legs hip distance apart and shift your weight from side to side. Third, stand arm’s length away from a wall or mirror. Lean frontward gently and try placing your palms on the wall. Fourth, heel raises are another easy exercise. Hold onto a chair standing upright. Feet are hip distance apart. Lift and then lower heels gently and repeat.(4) As always, make sure to discuss what exercises are appropriate and safe for you.
Finally, have a complete medical examination performed by your doctor. This may include a full medical examination; a bone density test; and/or a FRAX score. (5)
The reason bone health is important is that people are living longer and so the quality of one’s life is key. Healthy bones are the best way to prevent bone fractures which greatly impact quality of life. Preventing falls is so important. Take a look around your home to eliminate unnecessary clutter. Remove items such as area rugs that can be tripping hazards.Make sure the lighting is sufficient to see properly. Handrails should be placed in areas such as stairways as well as any other area that is challenging to maneuver. Showers, bathtubs and toilets should have grab bars in or near them. Always keep a flashlight or mobile phone next to your bed in case you need to see where you are going in the middle of the night. (6) An assessment of safety hazards in your home can be part of a free assessment for home care. https://www.indecareathome.com/contact/
Falls cannot always be prevented so there is a right way and a wrong way to fall. If possible, try to fall the “right” way which can lessen the chances of a broken bone. If you feel yourself begin to fall, try to fall forward or sit down. These maneuvers can sometimes keep your arms, legs and hips break free. Try not to fall on your side because this is the easiest way to break a hip. Your hands are good protection. Use them to catch yourself or grab something to break your fall. Sore hands and bruises are better than a broken bone. Having someone with you either a family member or home care assistance can help prevent falls as well. https://www.indecareathome.com/contact/
Most importantly, always seek medical attention after any fall. Undiagnosed fractures can be brushed off as simple pain. So see your doctor and make sure to advocate for yourself. Ask for an X-ray if you feel you feel you should have one.
Healthy bones help keep you pain free,active and independent. So take good care of them!
- https://www.nof.org/professionals/amy-mitchell/ Porter, CEO
- https://www.NOF.org/national-O-month/Safe Movement Brochure/