While one may not think of them as such, bones are living organisms that move through a constant cycle of growth, decay, and regeneration. With age comes the slowing of this cycle leaving un-replenished bones weakened and fragile, making them more susceptible to breaks and other severe injuries. This deteriorated state of bones due to loss of tissue is called osteoporosis.
What is osteoporosis?
The word osteo means “porous bone.” Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the process of bone regeneration, leading bones to become brittle and fragile because new bone growth cannot keep up with bone decay. These deficiencies in the bone can turn what would be a minor fall in one’s youth into a break or worse in one’s age. The potential of osteoporosis depends on a senior’s level of bone development as a youth. Those with larger frames have developed additional bone mass which can be used to slow the decline of bone as a senior.
Osteoporosis is a common occurrence, with 54 million diagnosed Americans. The condition is more prevalent in women but can affect men. One in two women and one and four men will experience a bone break due to osteoporosis.
Key signs signaling the onset of osteoporosis include:
Bone fractures: Due to the weakened and brittle state of their bones, seniors with osteoporosis have a predisposition to bone fractures. Hearing cracking or popping in bones is a sign to seek additional advice from a medical professional.
Getting shorter: Although shrinking a few inches is normal in aging, those with osteoporosis may show significant height loss, due to bone loss in the vertebrae and spine.
Upper back curving: Seniors who have a bent-over posture are showing the effects of a compressed vertebrae potentially from a previous fall. This posture has a significant impact on a senior’s ability to complete daily activities and may affect breathing.
Broken finger nails: Nails that are prone to breaking due to brittleness are signs of osteoporosis.
A home care services professional can aid your senior with osteoporosis
Home care services professionals can be helpful in senior prevention or management of osteoporosis. Those with osteoporosis will need help with activities inside the home. Removal of fall hazards from the home, such as throw rugs, weakened or cracked stairs or tiles, or general clutter is important to prevent falls, which can increase in severity for those with osteoporosis. Home care services professionals can perform any lifting or carrying tasks needed by a senior and complete any general housework as necessary.
A proper diet is essential to fortifying bones and preventing osteoporosis. Home care services providers can prepare meals high in calcium and/or vitamin D to help strengthen bones. Women age 50 and above and men age 70 and up need 1,200 mg of calcium daily. This can come from properly portioned meals of low-fat dairy, dark green leafy vegetables, and salmon, all high in the nutrients necessary to stave off or manage osteoporosis.
Exercise is also helpful to many ailments, including osteoporosis, as it helps build muscle and slow bone loss. Home care services aides work with elders on strength training and weight bearing and balance exercises of both the upper and lower body. Walking, jogging, and running help to fortify the lower body, protecting against hip and leg breaks, while light weightlifting can help with breaks in the arms or wrists.
Sources: Mayo Clinic – https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/osteoporosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351968
National Osteoporosis Foundation – https://www.nof.org/patients/what-is-osteoporosis/
Healthtalk – http://www.healthtalk.org/peoples-experiences/bones-joints/osteoporosis/impact-home-life-due-osteoporosis
RM Healthy – https://rmhealthy.com/10-signs-symptoms-osteoporosis/