Osteoporosis: What It Is And How It’s Treated
Osteoporosis is a disease that commonly affects seniors and is caused when our body loses minerals faster than they are replaced. This causes the bones to weaken and become more prone to fracture, increasing the risk that the senior will suffer a debilitating injury from an accidental fall.
After the age of 50, women have a 50 percent chance of suffering an osteoporosis-related fracture, while men 50 and over have a 25 percent chance, with the risk increasing dramatically after the first fracture!
On top of all this, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF), low bone mass and osteoporosis affect 52 million Americans and accounts for two million fractures and $19 billion in related expenses each year. Due to the high physical and financial cost that osteoporosis presents, prevention and treatment take a high priority in senior care. Below are a few of the current leading options:
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How Do The Available Medications Work?
Generally, most of the medications used to treat osteoporosis work by blocking the effects of bone destroying cells that increase as we get older. One of these medications, Denosumab, works by helping to prevent the formation of these cells.
In fact, Denosumab was shown to be effective in preventing fractures in the two most at risk populations for osteoporosis, postmenopausal women and men in treatment for prostate cancer.
Other osteoporosis medications, from a class called bisphosphonates, work in a way that is similar to the hormone estrogen, meaning that they inhibit bone breakdown, preserve bone mass, and may even increase bone density in the hips and spine. Examples of these medications include:
Always talk to your doctor about the benefits and possible side effects of a new medication, they can help you determine if it will be safe and effective for you or your loved one.
Why Not Hormone Therapy?
Due to the availability of other treatment options, estrogen therapy is generally not the first choice for maintaining bone density. Potential serious side effects can include the increased risk of :
- blood clots
- breast and endometrial cancer
- heart disease
The Crucial Role Diet Plays
One of the simplest ways you and your loved one can prevent osteoporosis is by maintaining a healthy diet rich in both calcium and vitamin D. It is important to remember that the amount of calcium a person needs will vary, however, according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), seniors should get around 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day with a max of 2,500 milligrams a day.
Natural sources calcium include:
- White beans
If you are unable to get enough calcium through your diet, your doctor may recommend that you take a supplement.
Vitamin D is also a crucial part of bone health due to the way our body absorbs calcium. The amount of vitamin D obtained through sun exposure will be enough for most people but, it is also available in certain foods like fortified cereals, egg yolks, or fatty fish. Your doctor may recommend a supplement if you are still unable to get enough vitamin D through diet or sun exposure.
Exercise: A Key To Strong Bones
Doctors will often recommend exercise or physical therapy in addition to osteoporosis medications because it can help improve bone and muscle strength, as well as improve balance and posture. This can benefit people of any age and reduce the likelihood that you or your loved one will fall and suffer a fracture.
You can try adding weights resistance exercises like walking in order to achieve the best results but, be sure to always talk to a doctor before starting a new routine.
Avoid Accidental Falls In The Home
Finally, you can help reduce the risk of injury by taking steps to make your home, or your loved one’s, safer. Things to check for can include:
- Burned out lightbulbs
- Important items like dishes or towels being out of easy reach
- Slippery surfaces
How Can Comfort Keepers® Help You?
At Comfort Keepers®, we know that it can be difficult to keep up with everything in your day, let alone everything your loved one is doing. That’s where our exceptional in home senior care services can help! When you work with one of our caregivers you can rest assured that your senior will be supported mentally, physically, and socially in order to them safety, happiness, and independence in their home.
If you’d like to learn more about our full list of in home senior care services, our mission philosophy, or would like to schedule your free in home consultation please, contact us online anytime or call us at (703) 520-2189.