Caring for The Health of Seniors’ Bones
Our bones work hard to support our bodies, and bone-health is incredibly important for mobility and overall quality of life. The reality is that bones are among the parts of the body that are most frequently effected by the aging process, and more than half of seniors will face bone-related health issues like Osteoporosis and Arthritis. The weakening of bones that takes place as a result of these diseases can lead to various negative outcomes, like fractures, breaks, and falls that can lead to further damage to the body as a whole. These diseases can make daily life uncomfortable, painful, and difficult for seniors, so it is important to remain attentive in order to detect early warning signs and intervene accordingly to help prevent or reduce the effects of bone diseases on seniors’ lives.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis
Osteoporosis and Arthritis are some of the most common bone diseases faced by seniors, but it should be understood that the two are different from one another. The effect of Osteoporosis is to weaken bones to the point that they begin to break easily by reducing bone-density over time, while Arthritis is understood as a more general condition that effects the joints and tissues that surround them. Both diseases affect the body in their own ways, manifesting different symptoms and outcomes, but there are some lifestyle choices and measures that can be taken to address overall bone health in ways that can help to identify or protect against both Osteoporosis and Arthritis.
Promoting Bone Health
Keeping seniors healthy and preventing bone diseases requires a combination of both lifestyle changes, and consultation with a health care professional to assess risk or identify problems as early as possible.
- Exercise: Strength training and other forms of exercise help to support overall health, and can help keep bones strong.
- Eat Well: Eating a healthy diet made up of, nutrient-dense foods can help to strengthen bones and protect against bone-loss. Calcium, Vitamin D, and Magnesium are especially important, so it can also be helpful to start taking supplements if enough of these important nutrients are not being consumed through meals.
- End Unhealthy Habits: Most of us know that behaviours such as smoking and drinking in excess have negative effects on our health, but we might not all be aware of the fact that they can specifically affect our bones. Smoking and alcohol consumption both weaken bones by leaching out important nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Seniors should stop smoking entirely, and should try only to consume alcohol in moderation.
- Perform Tests: There are a multitude of medical tests that can be performed by healthcare professionals that can help to create a more well-rounded picture of seniors’ current state of bone-health and their chances of developing conditions that would threaten the health of their bones. Bone Density Testing involves a specific type of x-ray that is designed to measure the levels of calcium and other minerals within the bones, and testing for specific nutrients such as calcium or vitamin D through urine samples is also an option that can provide information regarding seniors’ bone health and their chances of experiencing a fracture.
- Know Your Risks: There are numerous risk factors for conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, some of which are connected to lifestyle, others to biological features. Studies show that sex, ethnicity, family history, and age all factor in to an individual’s chances of developing osteoporosis or arthritis, as do aspects of personal history such as experience with eating disorders. Meeting with a doctor or conducting some self-directed research to determine what risk factors are present can help seniors to understand their chances of facing bone diseases, and can help them to understand what may have contributed to their development.
When caring for and providing support to seniors regarding their health, it is important to ensure all areas of the body are given ample attention so that seniors can make healthy choices, implement medications or treatments, and live their lives with sufficient knowledge regarding what they need to do to remain healthy. Knowing that bone health is likely to decline with age, and understanding the measures to take to help care for bones through health-promoting lifestyle choices and appropriate testing, knowledge-building, and consultation with a healthcare professional, can allow the seniors of Calgary to keep themselves in good shape even as they age.