Our bones do a lot of hard work to support our bodies, and bone-health is of integral importance to mobility and overall quality of life.
Bones are, however, among the areas of the body that are most often effected by aging, and more than half of adults in their senior years will have to contend with bone-related health problems such as Osteoporosis and Arthritis. The weakening of bones that occurs as a result of these diseases can lead to a number of troubling outcomes, such as fractures, breaks, and falls that can cause further damage to the body as a whole. These diseases can make day-to-day life uncomfortable, painful, and challenging for seniors, so it is important to keep an eye out for early warning signs so that action can be taken to intervene and help prevent or reduce the effects of bone diseases on seniors’ lives.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis
Osteoporosis and Arthritis are both among the most common bone diseases experienced by seniors, but the two are distinct from one another. The effect of Osteoporosis is to weaken bones to the extent that they become easily breakable by reducing bone-density over time, while Arthritis is a condition that is more general in nature and effects the joints and tissues that surround them. Each of these diseases manifests in distinct ways, through different symptoms and outcomes, but there are some changes and measures that can be taken to target overall bone health that can help to identify or protect against both Osteoporosis and Arthritis.
Promoting Bone Health
As is the case with many potential health problems, protecting seniors from bone diseases should involve both lifestyle changes, and interaction with a health care professional to assess risk or identify problems as early as possible.
- Eat Well: Eating a diet made up of healthy, nutrient-rich foods can help to strengthen bones and protect against bone-loss. Calcium, Vitamin D, and Magnesium play especially important roles, so it can also be helpful to consider supplements if there is any concern that enough of these vital nutrients are not being consumed through diet.
- Exercise: Strength training and other similar forms of exercise are beneficial for overall health, and can help keep bones strong for as long as possible.
- End Unhealthy Habits: Most of us are aware that behaviours such as smoking and drinking in excess are generally unhealthy, but we might not all know that they can also affect our bones. Smoking and alcohol consumption both weaken bones by leaching out important nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Seniors should quit smoking entirely, and should try only to consume alcohol in moderation.
- Know Your Risks: There are various risk factors for conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, some of which are linked to lifestyle, others linked to biological features. Statistics indicate that sex, ethnicity, family history, and age all factor in to an individual’s likelihood of developing osteoporosis or arthritis, as do elements of personal history such as experience with eating disorders. Consulting with a doctor or conducting some 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.
- Perform Tests: There are a variety of medical tests that can be conducted by healthcare professionals that can help to provide a clearer and more well-rounded picture concerning seniors’ current state of bone health and their likelihood of developing conditions that would threaten the health of their bones. Bone Density Testing is available that involves a particular type of x-ray 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 shed light on seniors’ state of bone health and their risk of experiencing a fracture.
When it comes to seniors and their health, it is important to make sure all areas of the body are attended to so that seniors can make healthy choices, implement medications or treatments, and live their lives aware of what they need to do to remain healthy. Knowing that bone health is affected by age, and understanding the steps 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 Ottawa to keep themselves in good shape even as they age.