- Aging & Longevity
Brittle Bones: 4 Bone Health Facts Every Senior Should Know
Your body changes as you age, and your bones are no exception. It’s important for seniors to be aware of their bone health and protect themselves against fractures and other bone problems. In order to defend your bones, you have to understand how they work and what they need. Here are some facts about your bones that will help you understand how bones work and the importance of keeping them healthy.
You’re Still Growing
Your bones don’t stop growing when you reach adulthood. They are actually in a constant state of flux as your body makes new bone cells and replaces old ones. This process slows considerably as you age but never stops completely. In your youth, this bone renewal cycle created more bone than you lost, making your bones denser.
After 30, however, the process slowed. Your body now makes less bone and will ultimately produce less than what you have lost. This decreases your bone density and can create brittle bones. Nevertheless, your body is still producing new bone cells and you can help it do so with proper nutrition.
Breaks Can Be Deadly
Seniors who break a hip are likely to find their world altered and are at an increased risk of death. One in five people who break a hip die within a year and one in three are no longer able to live independently after a hip fracture. While the break itself is not fatal, the loss of mobility experienced after a hip fracture sometimes leads to or aggravates other health problems. Some people recover from hip fractures but are not able to walk unaided, climb stairs or live alone again.
Bones Are Quiet
Doctors refer to some disorders as silent diseases because they have no symptoms until they cause a major issue. Osteoporosis is one such silent disease, often going undetected until a bone breaks. The silent nature of bone issues makes it important to understand your risk factors.
Both men and women can suffer from brittle bones, but the problem is far more prevalent in post-menopausal women. Whites and Asians are more likely to be at risk, as are those whose relatives have suffered broken bones as seniors. Some diseases and medications can weaken your bones, so make sure you understand any health problems you have and the medications you take.
You Have Power
Some bone loss may be unavoidable as you age, but there are ways you can actively protect your bones. You can help your bones by eating lots of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Take your vitamins and consider adding a calcium supplement or something similar to your diet. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes and minimize the amount of pain medications you take whenever possible. Get plenty of exercise, as well, as this helps stimulate bone cell growth. Ask your doctor about getting a bone scan to monitor the health and density of your bones
If you support your bones they are more likely to support you. Good bone health reduces the likelihood of falls and breaks. It also prevents painful spinal compressions that can leave you hunched over and uncomfortable. It’s never too late to start down the path to strong, healthy bones.