Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens the bones, making them prone to breakage. Osteoporosis means “porous bone.” Bone mass naturally decreases with age, but with osteoporosis, the outer cortex of long bones also thins out, causing the bones to further weaken. Although the disease affects men and women of all ages, women are more prone to developing osteoporosis.
People who have osteoporosis often fear they may eventually be unable to walk or perform other daily activities independently. These worries are justified, but not completely set in stone. Just because your loved one has been diagnosed with bone loss does not mean they cannot go on living a healthy life. There are many osteoporosis treatment options available.
The first step towards treating any disease is acceptance. There is no magic cure, no pill that will reverse the damage done by osteoporosis overnight, but a wide array of treatment options are available. The sooner you and your loved one become aware of this fact, the better their chances will be of overcoming the affliction.
What You Can Do to Help Treat Osteoporosis
There are a number of ways that osteoporosis can be treated and its effects minimized. Here are a few treatment options that every senior and their loved ones should keep top of mind to take care of themselves in the face of this disease.
Consult with your doctor about a bone density test. – The next step in dealing with an osteoporosis diagnosis is to find out just how extensive your bone loss is. A bone density test can help you discover if you or your loved one has osteoporosis and what the best course of action may be. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women over the age of 65 and men over 70 should have a bone density test, as well as older adults who may have broken a bone after the age of 50. Speak to your family physician to see if a bone density test is right for you or your loved one.
Maintain a healthy diet. – The nutritional needs of people who have osteoporosis are not much different than those who do not, however, they should consume greater amounts of bone-building calcium and Vitamin D. Foods in the dairy group are rich in these and other bone-strengthening vitamins and nutrients, so the best place to start is in your fridge. For instance, cook your loved one poached eggs on toast with a glass of whole milk. Remember that any dietary changes should be made in small increments instead of all at once. If he or she is lactose intolerant, supplements in pill form are an alternative way to ensure their daily nutritional needs are being met. Speak to your family physician before making any dietary changes.
Consult with your doctor about choosing the right medications. – Having a trusted relationship with your family’s doctor will help to ensure you choose the right medications to help treat osteoporosis. The National Osteoporosis Foundation notes that depending upon gender, age, and how severe the condition, these items will determine the type of medication you or your loved one take to treat it. Pre- and post-menopausal women may react differently to similar types of medication, while other forms of medicinal treatment may be more appropriate for more severe cases of osteoporosis. A chat with your family doctor can put you on the right course of treatment for your disease.
Get involved in an aerobics class. – The worst thing a person with osteoporosis can do is live a sedentary lifestyle. Physical inactivity only fosters bone deterioration and does nothing to prevent calcium deposits from forming on joints. To stay healthy and limber, a once or twice a week Yoga session (or walking, swimming, etc.) will make major strides in your loved one’s bone and overall health. Likewise, this is also an excellent way for them to meet and make new friends, especially fellow osteoporosis patients with whom they can learn and share their personal experiences. Discuss with your family doctor the best form of physical activity that fits your health condition.
Make your home safe and secure. – Falls are the leading cause of severe injury for people suffering from osteoporosis. Their brittle bones are more likely to fracture from a slip or tumble, which is why you should take every measure to prevent these accidents from happening. Installing safety devices in your home will significantly reduce the risk of a fall, and give you reassurance knowing they’re safe when you cannot be there with them. Handrails should be installed in hallways, and bathrooms should be equipped with designated safety devices (e.g. walk-in bathtubs, wheelchair accessible showers, automatic flush toilets). Your loved one may or may not need all of this right now depending on the current state of their osteoporosis treatment, but preparing ahead of time is always a good idea.
What steps have you taken towards preparing your home? Tell us in the comments below.
For more information, please review our Osteoporosis Resources.