Osteoporosis is a condition that affects the elderly by making their bones brittle and weak.
With osteoporosis, the likelihood of your parent breaking a bone or fracturing one increases because of her bone loss. While it is inevitable that everyone will lose some bone mass as they age, those with osteoporosis fare the negative consequences of extreme bone weakness because their bodies have not been able to keep up with replacing their bone loss.
Women are often the people most likely to succumb to osteoporosis because of their smaller frame size and the changes in their bodies after menopause, but anyone can develop osteoporosis. The best way to avoid the complications of osteoporosis starts with lifestyle choices made when a person is younger, but there are still steps your parent can take to reduce her risk of either worsening her osteoporosis or developing it. Let’s look at some ways she can increase her bone strength even now.
Maintain a healthy weight
For those who are at risk of developing osteoporosis, one step they can take to reduce the risk is to maintain a healthy weight that is not too low or too high. Being underweight increases the risk of bone loss and fracture. On the flip side, being overweight increases the risk of your parent having a fracture in her arm or wrist. Look to your parent’s diet and activity level to see if either can have adjustments to help her reach a healthy weight if she isn’t already there.
Eat the right foods (and avoid the bad!)
The two main ingredients needed to maintain good bone health are Calcium and Vitamin D. While many foods are enriched with these nutrients, you’ll want to help your parent develop a diet that is high in foods that contain them. For calcium, have her eat plenty of fish, peas, and beans along with the more commonly known foods of milk, yogurt, and cheese. Your elderly care provider can help with a shopping list that is heavy in foods that are calcium-rich and even look for some unlikely foods that have calcium added to them such as orange juice, margarine, and cereal to add to that shopping list.
Vitamin D is a nutrient that is difficult to get from her diet; your parent will need sunlight for that. When the weather permits, your parent should strive to spend some time out in the sun (with proper sunscreen) to let her body absorb the natural sunlight. Your elderly care provider can assist her in walks around the neighborhood or out to a local park. If getting outside is difficult (due to weather or mobility reasons), your parent might want to take a supplement to increase her intake.
Alcohol increases the risk of osteoporosis so encourage your parent to reduce her alcohol consumption to less than two drinks a day if she is concerned about or has osteoporosis.
Combining weight-bearing exercises (such as walking, dancing, and stair climbing) with strength-building exercises will help her build strong bones and reduce the amount of bone loss she will have. While starting a regular exercise schedule while she was young would have helped the most, beginning a regular course of these activities at any age will help her bone strength improve.
Remember, it’s never too late to start making steps toward better bone health.
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