Seniors and Osteoporosis: Tips for Good Bone Health

Maureen McGrath

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“Good bones” is an expression often used to refer to aging houses. A house with good bones is a good place for people to age. But what about people’s bones as they age?

Most people want to remain in their homes as they age which is why “good bones” doesn’t just matter to the structure of the home.  As people age, bones lose their mass and bone tissue deteriorates which is a disease called Osteoporosis.

Good bone health is crucial to Happier Aging something we at Nurse Next Door value immensely. It’s well known that like houses, bones may creak as we age but what is more important than your creaky bones, is your bone mass.

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Why Should We Care About Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is called the “silent thief” because it literally steals bone without any symptoms occurring for years. The diagnosis can be delayed. Some people may experience back pain, lose height or have a hunchback. Often, it’s a fall that results in a fracture that confirms the disease.

There are a number of contributing factors to the prevention of Osteoporosis.  They range from nutrition and exercise to Calcium. Osteoporosis isn’t just a women’s disease — men need to be concerned about Osteoporosis too.

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures during their lifetime worldwide. The most common fractures that occur are hip, spine, wrist and shoulder.  

For women, menopause results in a loss of estrogen. Menopause is a natural part of aging and it’s a time when bones become thin because of decreased estrogen. Menopause is a natural transition in life for women, something that can’t be controlled.

Nutrients for Good Bone Health

That said, there are a number of things you can control to prevent osteoporosis. Nutrition is critical for good bone health.  Calcium plays a role in the prevention of Osteoporosis. Calcium may slow down the speed of bone loss, which is beneficial in preventing fractures.  

When we think of calcium, milk comes to mind. But you may not like milk or you might be lactose-intolerant. There are a number of calcium-rich options* such as calcium-enriched orange juice, almond milk or soy milk. Keep in mind soy milk only absorbs at the rate of 75% of regular milk. Canned fish like sardines or salmon can also supplement your diet with Omega fatty acids and calcium (Source).

Protein builds and repairs bones. A diet rich in protein may be beneficial but the North American diet is quite high in protein and when meat, egg, poultry and dairy are metabolized, it may lead to high levels of acid in the blood robbing bones of calcium. So, you must add fruits and vegetables which are rich in potassium and magnesium to neutralize the acid.  

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Exercises for Preventing Osteoporosis

Exercise is proving to be a fountain of youth for the prevention of Osteoporosis. If you are worried about your safety while trying new exercises, seek a healthcare/fitness professional ahead of time. Check out three types of exercises to prevent bone loss:

Weight-bearing

  • Walking, hiking or dancing

Resistance

  • Weight lifting or water exercises

Flexibility

  • Yoga or stretching exercises

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Medications such as hormones and bisphosphonate may slow the bone loss process. If your disease has progressed significantly or you’ve suffered a fracture, your doctor may recommend one of these medications.

Studies show that Osteoporosis affects 200 million people worldwide. Healthy nutrition, exercise and maybe medications will help you to prevent or slow down the progress of Osteoporosis. Consult with your physician for any dietary or exercise advice. There are lots to do in terms of prevention so take a step in the right direction today!

Nurse Next Door makes it possible for you to keep living in your OWN home when get a little older and need a little help. Learn more about our services or schedule a free call with us to learn more!

Additional Resources

* = “What Food Can I Eat to Prevent Osteoporosis?” Author: Betty Kovacs Harbolic, MS, RD Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

Calculate Your Daily Calcium

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Maureen McGrath hosts the Sunday Night Health Show, a live listener call-in radio program on the Corus Radio Network across Western Canada.  

She is a Registered Nurse, a Nurse Continence and Sexual Health Educator.

Her TEDx talk on the No Sex Marriage has received over 17 million views.

She is also the Executive Director of the Women’s Health Initiative Network, an organization to raise awareness about women’s reproductive, bladder, vaginal and sexual health.

She is author of the book, Sex & Health: Why One Can’t Come Without the Other.  

Maureen is the recipient of the 2009 VCH Nursing Excellence Award, a 2013 YWCA Women of Distinction finalist and the 2016 Vancouver Board of Trade Community Catalyst Award. Her website is Back To The Bedroom.  Her blog is 50 Shades of Pink.

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