Osteoporosis in Seniors
Osteoporosis is a serious disease in which the bone density in our bodies is decreased and this leads to weak and brittle bones susceptible to fracturing. While we may think of bones as hard and solid, the truth is they are actually more akin to honeycombs. Full of tiny little holes in a honeycomb-like pattern, bone tissues are actually broken down and rebuilt quite often. New bone tissue is made as well as dissolved in order to release the minerals.
As we age, the process of losing and building bone becomes imbalanced and we begin to lose more than we rebuild. The tiny holes filling the interior cavity of a bone begin to grow bigger and the solid outer layer begins to thin more and more. Our bones become less dense and may even become “spongy” in a sense. Once this density goes beyond a certain limit, that is termed osteoporosis.
Bones breaking because of a bad fall or other accident is quite normal. But when bones are dense and strong enough, they are able to withstand minor falls. However, once bones are in the osteoporosis stage they are far more likely to break from any accident. And while a broken bone in the arm or wrist may be a hindrance, a hip fracture can be extremely debilitating.
Keeping our bones strong and healthy is important and the seniors in your life are far more prone to these issues than most.
Causes of Osteoporosis
What we eat
A huge factor in the degradation and onset of osteoporosis lies in our diet. A diet comprised of highly processed foods will lack many of the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for building strong bones. Calcium is the main mineral you might have heard of with respect to bones but minerals such as magnesium, sodium, potassium, and phosphorus are also essential to creating strong and healthy bones.
To ensure you’re getting enough calcium, be sure to include milk and milk products into your diet. Dark green leafy vegetables such as collard greens, kale, and spinach are excellent sources of calcium and essential vitamins.
Excess alcohol consumption as well as tobacco use are other factors that can lead to an onset of osteoporosis. Alcohol specifically disrupts the absorption of calcium and vitamin D in the pancreas. It also extends its reach to the liver and interferes with the activation of vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption.
There are also some medications such as steroids, that can disrupt the bone building process. Certain medical complications such as inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, liver disease, and celiac disease can all interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals and can accelerate the onset of osteoporosis.
An overly sedentary lifestyle can also impact bone density as the muscles don’t send enough signal for growth. It’s important to remain active and engage in load bearing activities to send the signals to your bones to rebuild and regrow.
Runs In The Family
Unfortunately for many, studies have shown that osteoporosis tends to run in the family. So if your loved one’s parents or grandparents were known to have bone issues, you can keep this in mind and help supplement your seniors diet and medication regimen.
The upside to all of this is that even if you are already diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s not too late to take care of and fortify your bones. As mentioned, bones are continuously breaking down and rebuilding themselves. So by supplementing your diet with calcium, vitamin D and other essential minerals, as well as engaging in load-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, dancing, or tennis, you can help maintain if not increase the density of your bones.
Our caregivers here at Christian Companions can help the seniors in your life make sure they are getting enough of the vitamins and minerals their bodies need. If you feel your parent or grandparent could benefit from in home caregiving services in the Houston area, please don’t hesitate to reach out today.