What Is Osteoporosis?

What Is Osteoporosis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent (nearly 200 million) women, and 4 percent of men over the age of 50 suffer from osteoporosis. The prevalence of the disease causes many adult children of elderly parents to worry that their parent could end up being counted in that statistic. The risk of developing this condition increases with age, which means that as a family caregiver it is important that you are familiar with this condition.

If you’re wondering about your elderly parent’s chances of being diagnosed with osteoporosis, knowing the risk factors and the symptoms that you and your parent’s elderly care providers should look for might help your parent to prevent the disease or at least receive treatment early on.

What Is Osteoporosis?

Bones are living tissue, and like other living tissues in the body, bone tissue is constantly broken down and new bone tissue is built. Osteoporosis is a disease in which new bone isn’t built up as quickly as old bone is broken down, making the bones weak. Weak bones are much more susceptible to breaking if the person should fall. Even placing stress on the bones, such as coughing or bending, may cause a fracture.

What Are the Risk Factors?

As we age, our bone mass deteriorates, increasing the risk of fractures – especially among the senior population. Every year, osteoporosis is responsible for more than 1.5 million fractures, including nearly 300,000 hip fractures, 700,000 spinal fractures, 250,000 wrist fractures and other injuries.

Knowing as much as you can about osteoporosis and your elderly parent’s risk is an important step in helping your parent avoid developing the condition or resist potentially serious consequences if they have already developed it. As with many health conditions, there are both risk factors that your aging parent can influence and those that they cannot. Understanding both of them is key to monitoring your parent’s health and helping them to stay healthier and stronger as they get older.

Risk factors for osteoporosis include:

Gender: Women are four times more likely to get osteoporosis than men are.

Age: People over the age of 50 are at a higher risk for the disease. Adults 90 years of age or older have a more than 60 percent risk of having osteoporosis, more than five times the risk of someone 60 years old.

Build: People who are thin and petite are more likely to get osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by the loss of bone mass. Since people who have small body frames have lower bone mass to begin with, they are at much higher risk of developing the condition than people of a larger body frame.

Heredity: A family history of osteoporosis increases the risk.

Certain Medications: There are some medications, such as steroids, that make osteoporosis more likely.

Medical Conditions: Some medical conditions increase the risk of osteoporosis. These include cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple myeloma, kidney disease, celiac disease, liver disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Ethnicity: Elderly adults who are of Asian or Caucasian descent or are white are more likely than other ethnicities to develop osteoporosis.

Risk factors that you CAN control include:

Drink Less Alcohol: Heavy drinkers are more likely to get osteoporosis because alcohol thins bones.

Quit Smoking: The use of tobacco products, including cigarettes, pipes, and chewing tobacco, are both linked to increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

Vitamin D and Calcium Rich Diet: Poor calcium intake is of serious concern. Vitamin D and calcium play a huge role in protecting and strengthening our bones, especially as we age. Without vitamin D, our bodies lose that ability to absorb calcium. Vitamin D is naturally found in foods like salmon, tuna, and mackerel, but is also added to many dairy (milk and cheese) and non-dairy products (soy milk and cereals). Calcium is often found in low-fat milk, yogurt and even in certain green vegetables.

Exercise Regularly: Like any tissue in the body, bones require exercise to keep them healthy and strong. A sedentary lifestyle is damaging to your elderly parent’s body in general but can be particularly detrimental to their bones. Encourage them to stay active, focusing on activities that have both a cardio and weight-bearing element. This helps to both support fat-burning and a healthy heart, as well as the growth and support of strong, healthy, and resilient bones.

What Are the Possible Complications of Osteoporosis?

Understanding the possible complications that can arise as a result of osteoporosis can help you work with your aging parent’s doctor to create a course of care and management designed to manage their needs and protect them as they age in place.

The most serious complication of osteoporosis is an increased chance of bone fractures.

Bones with lower mass are more fragile, which means that they are more likely to break in the event of an accident. Even a minor impact, such as walking into a piece of furniture or having a slight fall that would not result in anything serious for another person could cause a severe fracture for an elderly adult with osteoporosis.

The effects of a fracture on a person with osteoporosis can be devastating. Not only do these injuries cause extensive pain, but they can cause loss of mobility and lasting negative influence on their function. This diminishes quality of life and can even increase the risk of death.

Symptoms of Osteoporosis

When osteoporosis first begins, there will probably be no symptoms at all.

As the disease progresses, your elderly parent may have some of the following signs or symptoms:

– A reduction in height that occurs over time
– A fracture that occurred more easily than it should have
– Stooping
– Pain in the back caused by a collapsed or fractured vertebra

Home Health Care Services in Florida

If your elderly loved one has recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis or you are concerned that they are at increased risk of suffering such a condition, now may be the ideal time for you to consider home care services. Starting home care for them can make a tremendous difference in their health and quality of life.

The highly personalized services of an in-home senior care provider can help your elderly parent understand the risks associated with the condition and guide them through lifestyle choices that will help them to stay safer, healthier, and more comfortable.

This can include encouraging them to eat a healthier diet, guiding them through activities and exercises that will keep their bones and tissues as strong as possible, and offer reminders to keep them compliant with the medications and guidelines from their doctor.

Physical support and assistance can help to reduce fall risk and protect your parent while they are handling basic daily tasks, such as bathing, navigating the home, and toileting.

If your elderly parent is at increased risk of osteoporosis, encourage them to talk to their doctor about being screened for the disease.

If you or an aging loved-one are considering hiring Elderly Care Services, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care today by calling (888) 592-5855.