Osteoporosis can be difficult because of the excessive joint pain and fear of fractures. This guide will help you in dealing with osteoporosis in old age.
Osteoporosis is among the most common bone-related issues in the world. This condition affects about one in every three women and one in every five men over 50. If you are suffering from this condition, then you will face a lot of problems.
Completing your daily routine will become tiring and painful. The main problem in this condition is that the bones of your body become very thin and porous. Due to this, the bones are unable to function as they used to. Osteoporosis is diagnosed when a person suffers from a fracture.
This article will guide you through how you can live with this condition in your old age. We will also cover all the essential aspects of emotional, physical, social, and practical support.
Understanding Osteoporosis: The What And Why
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
- Brittle nails
- Less strength
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Reduced height
- Easily developing fracture from a fall
- Pain in the spine due to bone loss
- Reduced range of motion
Effect Of Age On Osteoporosis
As we grow older, our body’s efficiency to absorb nutrients decreases. Our body demands more calcium and vitamin D intake to maintain bone health.
In a person’s life, bone density is highest at the age of 35. After that, it starts reducing. Lifestyle habits, as well as medical conditions, are responsible for osteoporosis. If you do not take any preventive measures or treat osteoporosis, it will worsen along with age.
Hormones also play a significant role in retaining good bone health. By the age of 60 in men and over the age of 50 in women, hormonal secretion reduces, and the rate of breakage of bone increases than the rate of the rebuilding of bones.
Due to this, our bones lose their density, and thinner bones have a higher chance of breakage. These factors lead to the development of osteoporosis and frequent fractures.
What Cause Osteoporosis In Postmenopausal Women?
Three hormones in the human body are responsible for bone maintenance and development: estrogen, parathyroid, and testosterone. Estrogen plays a primary role in the development of bone health.
As a woman reaches the postmenopausal stage, estrogen production falls in the body. This hormone produces osteoblast cells, which are responsible for building bone cells, and osteoclast, which reduces the bone cells.
Fatty tissues are also responsible for estrogen production; however, ovaries are the primary source of estrogen in an older woman. Production of estrogen reduces after menopause.
When the production of estrogen goes down, it results in poor bone health and osteoporosis in menopausal women.
What Causes Osteoporosis in Older Men?
Testosterone which is secreted in men is responsible for maintaining sexual health. However, men continue to secrete this hormone during old age due to hormonal imbalance or other reasons.
If the testosterone level goes down, then it may lead to the occurrence of osteoporosis in men. To overcome this, doctors may suggest medicines to enhance testosterone levels.
Other Factors That Contribute To Osteoporosis
- No exercise: No body movement and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of suffering from osteoporosis. Doctors suggest that exercising is one of the best ways to regain bone health if you have osteoporosis.
- Lack of nutrition: When we do not get enough nutritious food in our diet, it leads to deficiency of essential nutrients like Calcium and Vitamin D in our body. Due to the deficiency, the bone tends to support the other vital organs by providing the essential nutrients.
- Smoking: Excessive smoking leads to poor bone health and osteoporosis. Being an avid smoker, you can lower down tobacco and if you smoke in moderation, then try to eliminate it from your life.
- Being underweight: Being underweight is also responsible for osteoporosis. You can gain weight by eating a balanced diet and paying attention to balancing macro and micronutrients.
- Family history of osteoporosis: If you have a family history of osteoporosis, you are at a higher risk of getting this disease.
- Being alcoholic: Overuse of alcohol accelerates the risk of osteoporosis.
- Prolonged use of corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are used for the treatment of inflammation. Prolonged use of these medicines increases the risk of osteoporosis. This medicine is used to overcome rheumatoid arthritis also.
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism leads to osteoporosis amongst people. If you do not check and regulate hyperthyroidism, then it may lead to severe osteoporosis. You can follow the guidelines of nutritionists to overcome this hormonal imbalance so your osteoporosis doesn’t worsen.
- Long-term bed rest: people who suffer from an accident or injury are suggested for long-term bed rest. Being inactive for an extended period may lead to osteoporosis.
Which bones are the most affected by osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis may occur in the entire body of a human being; however, three bones are highly affected by osteoporosis: spine, hip, and wrist are the three bones that may suffer from severe osteoporosis.
How long does osteoporosis pain last?
Osteoporosis doesn’t show any signs and symptoms early, but a person may not suffer from pain due to osteoporosis. It becomes painful when an osteoporosis patient suffers from a bone fracture. The pain lasts for two to three months until and unless the bone fracture is cured completely.
Is Osteoporosis treatable?
A person cannot wholly overcome osteoporosis as there is no treatment. However, a person may regain bone health by making lifestyle changes and healthy food adequately. A person can add strength to their bones by following the doctor’s guidance and maintaining overall health.
Can a person take calcium supplements to prevent osteoporosis?
We must get adequate nutrients from our diet. But if we cannot get enough nutrients from our diet and consume calcium supplements, yes, a person can have calcium supplements. It will help you to prevent osteoporosis. It won’t lead to calcium deficiency and enhance your bone health over the period.
Living With Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a disease that requires a lot of changes in multiple dimensions of your life. We will cover the various aspects of living with osteoporosis one by one:
- Medication for Osteoporosis
- Dietary changes
- Exercise and physical activity
- Lifestyle changes
- Preventing Falls: Home Modifications
- Workplace modifications
- Social and community support
- Mental health
Medication For Osteoporosis
There is no proper treatment for osteoporosis. However, by making lifestyle changes and incorporating drug therapies, you can reduce the symptoms of osteoporosis and the risk of fractures.
- Calcium and Vitamin D: Your doctor will recommend you medicines and instruct some guidelines like higher intake of Calcium and vitamin D intake through your diet and regular physical activity. Through this, you can reduce the breakdown of bone in your body.
- Estrogen: For the post-menopause period, doctors recommend estrogen receptor modulators. Evista is an example of estrogen receptor modulators which doctors suggest for the treatment of osteoporosis.
- Monoclonal antibodies: This is the immune therapy that is suggested for women after menopause. Some of the examples of monoclonal antibodies are denosumab, romosozumab.
- Calcitonin: Calcitonin prevents fracture in women after menopause, and it helps relieve the pain after the fracture.
- Parathyroid hormones: Since the hormone level goes down after menopause, doctors suggest parathyroid hormones result in bone formation.
- Medication for Coping with Pain: To cope up with osteoporosis pain, doctors suggest medicines that act to be a pain reliever. Medicines like aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen are medicines that help to relieve osteoporosis pain.
A Mediterranean diet is considered beneficial for treating osteoporosis. It is a plant-based diet that will improve the health of your bones. On the other hand, an unhealthy diet will introduce inflammation and further deteriorate your bones’ health.
Minerals: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium
The most important minerals for a healthy bone density are calcium and vitamin D. These minerals will not alone cure your osteoporosis. Still, they will provide some protection against fractures and injuries.
Calcium and Phosphorus
People deficient in calcium can increase their calcium and phosphorus intake. Some of the good sources of calcium are milk and other dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, kale, salmon, sardines, and canned fish bones.
You may be taking enough Calcium and Phosphorus in your diet, but without Vitamin D, it will not be absorbed in the body. One of the easiest ways to enhance Vitamin D production in the body is to spend time in natural sunlight. Food supplements that you can take include egg yolk, mushrooms, fatty fish and seafood.
Some elderly also suffer from Magnesium deficiency, and this can also be a contributor to osteoporosis. The elderly with adequate magnesium amounts in their body are 27% less at risk of suffering from a fracture than people with a magnesium deficiency.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You also start eating food items that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. You will find this mineral in food items such as fish, salmon, tuna, sardine, and so on. You can also consult your doctors to provide you with a detailed food chart and schedule.
Protein also plays a vital role in the development of the muscles. By consuming fish, soybeans, legumes, cereals, sprouts, chicken, and meat, you can amplify your protein intake.
Prevention From Falls: Home Modifications
Your bones are already weaker if you have osteoporosis. Bone density reduces, and thus it becomes essential for you to prevent falls because it may lead to fractures.
Studies suggest that 1 in 3 people with osteoporosis fall and suffer from bone fractures over the age of 65. You may suffer from severe osteoporosis pain if a bone breaks, so preventing falls is essential for osteoporosis patients. Here are some home modifications and tips to prevent falls:
Home Modifications To Prevent Falls
Some home modifications can be advantageous for seniors suffering from osteoporosis in various ways. They can make their life simpler and prevent their falls.
- You can use Tri-Fold Bedside Fall Mat to prevent their fall while sleeping.
- Safe-T-Mate Fall Prevention Monitor can alarm the caretakers if the seniors loiter too far.
- You can also install a motion sensor that can read slight movements when the seniors suddenly move and it can immediately alarm the caregiver.
- By installing hand railing and grab bars near the bath tubs, showering areas, and stairs you can prevent your elders from falling. It will act as a good preventive measure and provide good support.
- You can clean up the extra clutter out of your house. Pay special attention that there is no oily substance or water spilled on the floor.
- Try to exclude tripping hazards from your house to prevent falls.
A person who has osteoporosis will need separate provisions at their workplace. Along with these provisions, if they can also get some assistance within the workplace, it would help them. You can make the workplace a fall prevention zone by making some changes to it.
Some of the smaller adjustments that can be made for an osteoporosis patient are
- Using seats specially designed for such patients.
- Your employer can allow you to perform physical therapy and exercises in the office.
- Reduce your working hours so that you have ample time for your treatment and rehabilitation.
- Add adequate lighting in all the rooms for better visibility.
- Try to add slip resistant edges for the steps. Many elders slip off from the steps so installing slip resistant edges can protect them to a great extent.
- If you use a rollator walker you can ask your employer to install temporary ramps where possible.
You can still maintain high levels of work and production with these tips. Being diagnosed with osteoporosis will not affect you if you deal effectively with osteoporosis.
Exercise and Physical Activity
Performing physical exercises is one of the best ways to improve your condition, enhance immunity and help you deal with the pain.
Exercises to avoid
However, not all exercises are good for osteoporosis patients. Due to the risk of fracture from falls and exercises that involve putting pressure on the joints, strenuous activities such as running should be avoided.
You must also avoid performing any front or side bending exercises as our balance is not very strong while doing these exercises.
Exercises that you can do
Strength training exercises decrease the risk of bone fracture and help keep your entire body fit. People with osteoporosis should lift light weights and perform strength training regularly. This helps to reduce mineral loss, and also helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Strength training promotes spine health and slows down bone density loss.
Resistance exercises are perfect and ideal for osteoporosis patients. Since these exercises have low impact on the joints, your risk of fracture is reduced.
Balance exercises: Balance boards and exercise balls help improve spinal health. These exercises are also good for people with Osteoporosis.
Other activities which old aged people can perform to treat osteoporosis include:
- Aerobic exercises
- Stair climbing
- High-intensity exercise
- Brisk walking
- Elliptical training
- Aquatic exercises
Stop smoking, as smoking will increase the risk of this condition. Smoking is known for decreasing the bone density in the body.
As the bones grow weaker, they can easily get fractured. If you are diagnosed with osteoporosis, and you smoke, then you must immediately start quitting smoking.
Alcohol is another important factor that can worsen Osteoporosis. Studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption weakens your bones. In fact, the damage caused is difficult to remedy even after you quit drinking.
Excessive caffeine intake leads to bone loss. So reducing caffeine intake may prevent bone loss and osteoporosis.
Social And Community Support
If you have a bigger social network or connection, then dealing with osteoporosis in old age can be a little bit easy for you as you can engage with your network and contacts and keep yourself busy. Already having strong social support will eliminate the need for you to join any social groups.
In this day and age, you don’t need to have physical social support; your social support can also be online connected to you at all times. This will allow you to hang out and enjoy yourselves and help you to deal with osteoporosis.
If you don’t have a strong social circle, don’t worry. There are several support groups for patients dealing with bone related diseases including Arthritis and Osteoporosis. Some of them can also help you with volunteers who can assist with daily tasks that may become risky due to osteoporosis
You will need to be emotionally strong and prepared when dealing with a long-lasting condition such as osteoporosis, as it will seriously affect your lifestyle and routine. Studies show that Osteoporosis patients may suffer from anxiety and fear of falling as well as depression.
Some ways that you can improve your emotional well being when dealing with osteoporosis are
- Looking after yourself is very important as this will help your condition from worsening. You can also go for a caregiver that will aid you through your daily routine. Having someone to look after you has a positive impact in many cases, and it also reduces the adverse effects on your mental health.
- An active coping mechanism is an ideal mechanism for good emotional well-being as well. This method involves you accepting your condition and then developing positive thinking around it.
- You can join active support groups to divert yourself and to keep your mind busy. These groups could involve any topic of your liking, or they can also be self-help or educational support groups. Joining a support group will increase your social interaction with people.
- Following your hobbies or passion is one of the most effective methods for keeping yourself emotionally happy. Doing what our heart wants is the best way to keep them happy and healthy.
Osteoporosis is a widespread disorder around the globe. It is predicted that osteoporosis patients are increasing every year. It is indispensable to take some necessary precautions and make some changes to live long with osteoporosis. You can have a sigh of relief because you will come across all the relevant information related to osteoporosis in this blog. So please make sure you pick up all the essential points through it.