Osteoporosis: What It Is And How It’s Treated
Osteoporosis is a common ailment that affects seniors that is caused when our bones lose minerals faster than they can be replaced, causing them to become brittle. This increases the risk of a senior experiencing a fracture or serious break from an accidental fall. In fact, many seniors don’t even know they are suffering from osteoporosis until they experience a fracture!
Additionally, 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 increases dramatically after the first occurrence.
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, making it very clear why treatment and prevention a so critical to senior care. Below are a few examples of the leading options:
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What Medications Are Available?
Many of the medications that treat osteoporosis work in a similar way, by preventing the effects of bone-destroying cells that increase as we age. One of these compounds, called Denosumab, helps prevent the formation of these cells.
Denosumab was shown to be effective in preventing fractures for two of the populations most at risk of developing osteoporosis, men in treatment for prostate cancer and postmenopausal women.
Other medications used in osteoporosis treatment, a group of drugs called bisphosphonates, work in a way that is similar to the hormone estrogen by preserving bone mass, inhibiting bone breakdown, and potentially increasing bone density in the spine and hips. Examples of these medications include:
Always talk to a doctor about the potential benefits and side effects before starting any new medication. They can help determine if it will be safe and effective for you or your loved one.
How About 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
Your Diet Plays A Crucial Role In Osteoporosis Prevention
One of the best ways you and your loved one can work to improve your bone health is by maintaining a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D. It is also important to remember that the amount of calcium we need changes as we age.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), seniors should get around 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. There are a number of foods you can include in your diet to get calcium but, if that isn’t enough your doctor may recommend taking a supplement, however, the IOM recommends limiting total calcium intake to 2,500 milligrams a day.
Natural sources calcium include:
- Canned salmon with the bones
- Soy products
Vitamin D is essential to bone health due to the way our bodies absorb calcium. Most people will be able to get enough vitamin D from exposure to sunlight but, it can also be found in egg yolks and fish. For those unable to get enough vitamin D through sun exposure or diet, your doctor may recommend a supplement.
Exercise: A Key To Strong Bones
Frequently, a doctor will suggest physical therapy or exercise in addition to other osteoporosis treatments. This is due to the fact that exercise can help to improve bone and muscle strength, posture, and balance, reducing the likelihood of falling and suffering a fracture.
If you’d like to try taking things to the next level, try adding weight to resistance exercises, like walking, but always be sure to consult your doctor before starting a new routine.
Reduce The Risk Of Accidental Falls
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:
- Non slip treads for bare-wood steps
- A raised toilet seat or one with armrests
- Clothing, dishes, food and other necessities stored within easy reach
Comfort Keepers®: Beyond Simple Personal Care
When you work with Comfort Keepers®, you can be assured that your loved one is receiving the best in home senior care. By using our unique approach called Interactive Caregiving™, our caregivers ensure that the seniors they look after are nourished mentally, physically, and socially in order to help them live happily and independently in their own home.
If you’d like to learn more about our full list of in home senior care services or would like to schedule your free in home consultation please, contact us online anytime or call us at (757) 204-1108.