A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

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In this guide, we will focus on bone health, factors that make seniors susceptible to fractures and sprains, and what you can do about it as a caregiver.

Our health is an essential aspect of our life. We need to pay attention to various factors to enhance our health. Bone health is one such significant thing. Over 35 percent of postmenopausal women suffer from bone fractures of the hip and distal forearm. 

A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

In older age, people suffer from significant bone health problems and bone loss. According to recent research, over 1.5 million people suffer from bone fractures due to less bone health. Today we are going to discuss in-depth aspects related to bone health and the ways to enhance it. 

Bone Fractures

Most people think that bone fractures occur only due to accidents or falls. In reality, there are many types of bone fractures, and there are several factors that put you at higher risk for fractures. Let’s discuss these aspects in detail and things that you can do to improve overall bone health.

What are the multiple types of bone fractures?

Bone fractures can be of many types

Stress fractures

A person who gets a minute crack into the bones is known to get a stress fracture. Many times it’s challenging to find it in the imaging. Stress fractures occur due to the constant repetition of force on a particular bone. 

For instance: jumping or running. These types of fractures may occur to a bone if your bone density diminishes due to a condition named osteoporosis. It is also known as a hairline fracture. 

Expelled fractures

When a gap is created due to injury or accident between the bones, then it’s termed as an expelled fracture.

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Unjust fractures

Sometimes, a person doesn’t break his bone completely and withstands some cracks into it. Such kinds of fractures are called unjust fractures. It may happen when a person experiences a fall or an accident. This fracture is known to occur widely amongst seniors as they lose their bone density as they age.

Complete fracture

When the bone breaks completely, this kind of fracture is known as a complete fracture. This more widely occurs during severe accidents. 

Fracture dislocation

Fracture dislocation occurs when a certain bone fractures and joint dislocation arises. Your joint is known to be incapacitated by the pain. In multiple cases, two or more bones come together at a particular place, and thus fracture-dislocation occurs.

Comminuted fractures

Excessive tension or stress causes the bone to break down into many pieces. It usually occurs when a person falls from great heights. 

Greenstick fracture

Greenstick fracture occurs when one facet breaks partially, and the other part of the bone remains as it can tilt.

Who is at risk of getting bone fractures?

When our bone suffers from excessive pressure or stress, we develop a bone fracture. Our seniors are at risk of getting bone fractures. Age, gender and lifestyle habits also contribute to the occurrence of fractures. 

  • People who have lower body weight are at risk of getting bone fractures.
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle.
  • Excessive smoking.
  • People who use sedatives and antidepressants.
  • Long term use of corticosteroid medicines like methylprednisolone, prednisone and cortisone.
  • Osteoporosis
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Why are postmenopausal women at a higher risk of developing bone fracture?

Hormones are known to affect bone growth and maintenance. Three hormones named parathyroid, testosterone and estrogen hormones impact bone building. Estrogen is known to promote bone-growing cells known as osteoblasts. 

It also reduces osteoclasts. Osteoclasts are responsible for the breaking of bones. Ovaries are responsible for the generation of estrogen in the body. However, after menopause, estrogen isn’t produced by the ovaries. 

Estrogen production occurs even in the body’s fatty tissue, but ovaries are responsible for the higher production of estrogen. This leads to bone loss and bone fractures after menopause.

Why does calcium play a significant role in bone health? 

Calcium is the nutrient that is responsible for good bone health and its maintenance. 1000 mg of calcium intake is suggested to the adults daily. The calcium intake should increase to 1200mg for postmenopausal women. 

Males of 71 and higher and women with age 50 and higher must include 1200mg of calcium regularly. Tofu, sardines, broccoli, milk, dates, canned salmon with bones and dried figs are excellent sources of calcium. 

How does Vitamin D help in bone health?

Vitamin D is responsible for ensuring that the calcium that you take in gets absorbed in the body and is therefore able to help in bone development. Without Vitamin D, all the calcium that you take in will be futile.

A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

What symptoms do people with bone fractures endure?

By understanding the symptoms, you can relate somewhat to whether the injury is deep or not. Nonetheless, do not self examine or treat yourself. If the pain is aggravating, you must rush to the hospital instantly and get your treatment done by the specialist. 

  • Intensive pain
  • Swelling in the area affected
  • Difficulty in moving the area affected
  • You notice a twist or turn where you get hurt 

If the injury is more profound, the pain must be gut-wrenching, and you need to visit the doctor shortly. The symptoms may vary depending on the type of fracture.

How do you diagnose bone fracture?

Healthcare units are taking massive strides in Today’s generation. These factors are infused with the latest technologies, which are making medical fields highly progressive. You can diagnose bone fractures in the following ways. These are the latest from the technology which has been widely used for the determination of multiple diseases.

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI

Bone scan

Significance Of Exercise For Bone Health

Living sedentary lifestyles leads to muscle loss and lowered bone health. By staying active and including exercises, you can enhance your bone health. People over 30 must include strength training, lifting as well as cardio. Cardio pushes the heart rate up and is suitable for the entire body. If you are above 50, then you can include high-intensity training activity. You may include cardio activities such as 

  • Cycling
  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Jogging
  • Aerobics
  • Exercising outdoor

 You can include yoga as it comes in different forms, and it is known to enhance the flexibility of the body. 

A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

All About Sprains 

For the interconnection of two bones, ligaments are present. Ligaments are formulated of fibrous connective tissue and are responsible for joining two bones together. Let’s have a glance at multiple elements related to the sprain.

What is a sprain?

While executing physical activities for the first time due to unexpected injury, the ligaments of the ankle or wrist turn and curve. This leads to a sprain between these ligaments. 

What happens to a person who withstands a sprain?

When a person falls or endures an injury, they are prone to hurt or stretch one or two ligaments, depending on how severe the injury is. A person who has a sprain is known to go through intensive pain if the injury is terrible. 

It may be excruciating if it’s in the upper or lower body parts of the body like the ankle, wrist and knees. Nonetheless, there is nothing to worry about because it can be treated by taking proper measures and following the guidelines recommended by the doctor.

Which body parts undergo a sprain?

A sprain can occur at any place in our body. If you undergo a severe injury or disastrous accident, then the chances of getting multiple sprains in the body parts like knee, wrist and ankle are more widespread. 

A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

What are the symptoms of a sprain?

The degree to which you are affected by the sprain varies from mild to severe one. Severe sprain results in the ligament rupture, the pain of which can be excruciating and unbearable.

Following are the symptoms of sprain:

  1. Not being able to move from the place.
  2. Swelling in the area affected.
  3. Bruising
  4. Severe pain

Sprain and Old age

A sprain is less painful than fractures but is more common in elders than any other injury. During old age, tendons in ankles and hands become less flexible, thus increasing the risk of sprains. 

A sprain can happen anytime while getting up or sitting or doing daily chores like bathing, walking, etc. Hence sprain and old age have a direct relationship with each other. 

A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

Bone Densitometry

Bone densitometry is a form of X-ray used to detect bone loss or bone density, bone fractures, or other underlying causes. 

When is the bone densitometry test suggested?

  • You suffer from liver, kidney disease or rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis.
  • When you use corticosteroid medicines that aid the inflammation. 
  • When you have a family history of bone loss or chronic disease like diabetes.
  • If you have entered into a postmenopausal stage, you are either underweight or height beyond 5 feet 8 inches.
  • You have undergone a hysterectomy, or you are postmenopausal women who don’t take estrogen. 
  • Excessive smoking.
  • You have suffered from a hip fracture.
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Suffer from the parathyroid condition
  • When you suffer from a fracture due to an accident or any other way.
  • Vertebral fracture
A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

Spinal Cord Injuries

The pain that a person undergoes when affected by spinal cord injury is horrible. Spinal cord injuries are known to happen when nerves or any part of the spinal cord is harmed. Let’s study this aspect in detail!

What are the symptoms of spinal cord injury?

  • You are not able to move.
  • You feel fewer urges for sexual activity.
  • Diminished fertility.
  • Less bladder control.
  • Coughing
  • It causes difficulty in breathing

What are the causes of spinal cord injuries?

Spinal cord injuries occur when your spinal cord or the disc of the spinal cord vertebrae, ligaments cannot function adequately. When a person undergoes spinal cord injuries, they may dislocation or fracture the spinal cord itself. 

When heavy substances fall on a person’s back or go through traumatic incidents, these injuries occur. Accidents are also credible for spinal cord injuries. Dangerous accidents can lead to disastrous kinds of spinal cord injuries and result in severe pain. 

A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

Relationship between old age and spinal cord injury

Old age results in hard and brittle disks between the backbones, which put extra pressure on the spinal cord and the nerves connected to it. The pressure might injure the nerve fibres, leading to decreased strength and balance of the spinal cord. The decreased strength makes aged adults more prone to spinal cord injury.

What are the complications of spinal cord injury?

  • Depression: Many people enter into a state of depression due to the sudden trauma and cannot cope with tremendous injuries that occur in their life when they suffer from this problem. One must try to get themselves treated well and be optimistic that one will be cured through this. Our elders are more prone to this kind of mindset. Caregivers must help them overcome this problem by spending quality time with them.
  • Problems in sexual health: People are known to go through various complications in their sexual health and have to bear multiple infertility problems. In women, they are unable to lubricate well. In men, issues of erection and evacuation arise as well. It is advisable to visit a doctor and get yourself treated well. 
  • Extensive pain: Many people cannot carry out their daily activities due to pain as a result of injury. Spinal cord pain leads to lesser movements of the body.
  • Reduced fitness: As an outcome of a sedentary lifestyle, muscle atrophy and weight loss are pretty common for those who suffer from spinal cord injury. A sedentary lifestyle leads to getting affected by chronic diseases like diabetes and heart issues. It is advisable to consume nutritious food and have an adequate amount of water. You can consult a nutritionist for your well being at your convenience.

Which Foods Can Enhance Bones Health?

  • Milk: Comprehending calcium intake is a crucial task if you want to magnify your bone health. You can incorporate milk into your daily diet twice a day to overcome the lowered bone density. People who are old must comprehend the significance of healthy eating, which can promote their health. 
  • Dates: Dates are known for their high calcium content. Various nutritionists also recommend people, especially women, consume dates regularly to upgrade their calcium levels. You can even soak them overnight and drink their water in the morning for a higher rate of metabolism. 
  • Green leafy vegetables: Green leafy vegetables are a must-have since they are packed with loads of nutrients. You can incorporate them, especially in the winter season. Cabbage, broccoli, spinach, green leafy vegetables are good ones to have, and they will boost your vitamin and mineral levels too.
  • Dairy products: People who turn vegan have to bear various problems since they eliminate dairy products. Lack of dairy products leads to vitamin B12 deficiency. To overcome this deficiency, you need to incorporate dairy products like milk, cheese, tofu, paneer in your daily diet. 
  • Fish: Fish is a good source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids like EPA ( eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), riboflavin, protein and Vitamin D. You can include fish in your diet to avoid calcium deficiency. You can add Tuna, salmon, bluefish, mackerel, sardines, herring to your diet.
  • Vitamin D rich foods: Vitamin D rich foods are known to aid bone loss and lead to healthier bones. Egg yolk, liver, red meat, mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, canned Tuna are good sources of Vitamin D.
A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

Frequently Asked Questions Related To Bone Health

In how much time can I regain my bone health?

By taking adequate care and including strength training and focusing on your nutrition, you can regain your bone health within a period of 1 to 2 months. If you have undergone extensive bone loss, it may take time to fill up your calcium deficiency and build a reservoir in your body. 

Make sure that you follow the recommendations of a physician and do not consume supplements on your own. You will eventually come across some positive changes and notice that your pain has lowered down. Caregivers can understand this concept better so that they can assist their seniors.

What lifestyle adjustments can you make to enhance bone health?

By focusing on a healthy diet and exercising regularly, anyone can enhance bone health. The other thing which you can do is limit coffee and tea intake. You can limit your alcohol intake and quit smoking if you want to stop bone loss. 

Wrap Up

With old age, bones, muscles, and joints tend to lose their earlier vitality. It is important as a caregiver to make sure that those under your care follow the right diet, exercise, and other precautions to make sure that their bone health remains perfect.

A Guide to Bone Health for Seniors and Caregivers

At the same time, understanding the various types of bone fractures, sprains, and spinal cord injuries are very important for caregivers to take quick action and provide the right kind of care in case of an emergency.

We hope the information that we shared in this article has answered all your questions. If you would like to ask more, do not hesitate to put them in our comments box, and we will get back to you at the earliest.