Osteoporosis and Seniors

Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease causing the deterioration of bones throughout the body.

Seniors are more susceptible to suffering the severe effects that can arise from osteoporosis, as the weakening of bone tissue can lead to fractures in the hips, wrists and spine. Both men and women can develop osteoporosis and the disease becomes more prominent as you age. However, osteoporosis is a preventable disease if you can detect the illness in its earliest stages.

For those of you who have already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are several ways you can treat the condition and prevent further deterioration from occurring. Changes in your lifestyle and diet, as well as increased calcium intake can set you on the right path toward recovering from osteoporosis symptoms. You can work with your health care provider to diagnose osteoporosis and to determine the best treatment options for your particular case of this disease.

How to Detect Osteoporosis

Learning how to detect and prevent osteoporosis is essential as you may be able to catch the first symptoms of this disease before it develops further. Typically, there are no common symptoms attributed to the development of osteoporosis. This means you will need to be mindful of certain patterns that may occur as you continue to age. If you notice you are in pain or if you have been more susceptible to fractures, you may want to consult with your medical provider about receiving testing for osteoporosis.

One of the first tests you can receive to detect osteoporosis is to have your bone mass measured. To do so, your doctor will administer a bone mineral density test (BMD), as the BMD can detect osteoporosis and will also work to determine your overall bone health. A BMD functions similarly to an x-ray but contains significantly less exposure to radiation during the process. By learning about your bone health, your doctor will be able to calculate your risk for fractures and gauge your responsiveness to possible osteoporosis treatment options.

In addition to determining your bone health and susceptibility to fractures, a bone mineral density test will also be able to identify:

  • low bone density levels before a fracture happens.
  • a predictive idea of whether you will suffer fractures in the future.
  • a confirmed diagnosis of osteoporosis if you have suffered fractures in the past.
  • your rate of bone loss.
  • a monitored effect of treatment options if the test is conducted multiple times throughout the year.

Treating Osteoporosis in Seniors

If you have received an osteoporosis diagnosis from your medical provider, you will need to work with him or her directly to create the best treatment plan. Primarily, osteoporosis care plans are comprised of the same working components as these are known to aid in the treatment process. You will need to focus primarily on a proper nutrition and exercise plan as these can help to strengthen your bones and prevent injuries from occurring. Your doctor will build a nutrition and exercise plan that works best for you after determining the extent of your bone loss and the overall nature of your bone health.

Your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent further bone loss by slowing the bone loss you are currently experiencing. You may also receive medication to boost your bone level density, as this will strengthen your bones and increase your bone health as you grow older. Each of these medications is proven in reducing your risk of bone fractures as you continue with your osteoporosis treatment. Your doctor may prescribe vitamin D supplements, as well, as these can aid in calcium absorption.

One of the primary ways to treat osteoporosis directly is to take calcium supplements. Calcium deficiency is one of the leading causes of osteoporosis and taking these supplements can help you replace vital nutrients. You can choose to receive calcium from natural sources, as well as supplements. Your doctor may suggest having an increase in dairy in your diet as many dairy products, such as milk and cheese, are high in calcium. Women who are in the post menopause stage and older men need to consume higher levels of calcium than younger individuals to prevent bone loss from occurring.

Decreasing Your Risk Factors

In addition to receiving osteoporosis treatment from your medical provider, you can take steps on your own to decrease your risk factors for developing further bone loss. If you currently smoke cigarettes, taking steps to give up this habit can help you protect yourself from the debilitating effects of prolonged osteoporosis degeneration. Cigarettes contain chemicals that are bad for your bones and can increase your likelihood of fracturing your hips, wrists, or vertebrae in your spine. Additionally, your alcohol consumption can also affect your bone health and can lead to osteoporosis issues if you are drinking in excess. Increased alcohol consumption can increase your risk of fracturing your bones.

If you currently take medication containing glucocorticoids or anticonvulsants, these can also prove harmful to your bone health if you are suffering from osteoporosis. Long-term usage of these medications can cause loss of bone density. For those of you taking prescriptions with these ingredients, you may want to speak with your medical provider about alternative medications that will not put you at higher risk of bone fractures. Once your doctor is aware of your osteoporosis diagnosis, he or she will be able to look through your existing medications to determine if any of them are going to conflict with your osteoporosis treatment.

Inactivity is a leading cause of osteoporosis in seniors, as lack of exercise or extended bed rest can lead to bone degeneration. The more frequently you exercise, the stronger your bones will become. Your doctor can help you develop an exercise routine within your comfort level. Weight-bearing exercises are commonly prescribed to seniors suffering from osteoporosis, as these exercises can help in strengthening your bones, as well as your muscles. For your exercise routine, you can choose to walk, jog, or hike if you prefer these activities to weight-bearing exercises.

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