Our bones do a lot of hard work to support the mobility of our bodies, and bone-health is deeply important for overall quality of life.
The truth is that our bones are some the areas of the body that are most greatly altered by the process of growing older, and more than half of seniors will have to contend with bone-related health issues like Osteoporosis and Arthritis. The weakening of bones that takes place because of these diseases can cause numerous negative outcomes like fractures, breaks, and falls that can lead to further damage to the body. These diseases can make everyday life uncomfortable, painful, and tough for seniors, so it is important to stay attentive in order to detect early warning signs and intervene promptly and appropriately to help avoid or minimize the impacts of bone diseases on seniors’ lives.
Osteoporosis and Arthritis
Osteoporosis and Arthritis are among the most common bone diseases that seniors encounter, but it should be noted that the two are different from one another. The impact of Osteoporosis is to weaken bones to the point that they start to break easily by reducing bone-density over time, while Arthritis is considered a more general condition that impacts the joints and tissues that surround them. Both diseases impact the body in their own unique ways, creating different symptoms and outcomes, but there are some lifestyle choices and behavioural measures that can be taken to attend to bone health in ways that can help to identify or protect against both Osteoporosis and Arthritis.
Promoting Bone Health
Keeping seniors healthy and working to avoid bone diseases requires a combination of both lifestyle changes and meetings with a health care professional to talk through risk factors or identify problems as promptly as possible.
- Perform Tests: There are a whole host of medical tests that can be performed by healthcare professionals that can help to build a more well-rounded picture of seniors’ current state of bone-health and their chances of developing conditions that would threaten the health of their bones. Bone Density Testing involves a specific type of x-ray that is designed to measure the levels of calcium and other minerals within the bones, and testing for specific nutrients such as calcium or vitamin D through urine samples is also an option that can provide information regarding seniors’ bone health and their chances of experiencing a fracture.
- Exercise: Strength training and other forms of exercise help to support overall health, and can help keep bones strong.
- End Unhealthy Habits: Most of us understand that behaviours such as smoking and drinking in excess have negative impacts on our health, but we might not all be aware of the fact that they can specifically impact our bones. Smoking and alcohol consumption both weaken bones by leaching out important nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Seniors should stop smoking entirely, and should try only to consume alcohol in moderation.
- Eat Well: Eating a healthy diet made up of, nutrient-dense foods can help to strengthen bones and protect against bone-loss. Calcium, Vitamin D, and Magnesium are especially important, so it can also be helpful to start taking supplements if enough of these important nutrients are not being consumed through meals.
- Know Your Risks: There are multiple risk factors for conditions like arthritis and osteoporosis, some of which are connected to lifestyle, others to biological features. Studies show that sex, ethnicity, family history, and age all factor in to an individual’s chances of developing osteoporosis or arthritis, as do aspects of personal history such as experience with eating disorders. Meeting with a doctor or conducting some self-directed research to determine what risk factors are present can help seniors to understand their chances of facing bone diseases, and can help them to understand what may have contributed to their development.
When working with a senior and planning out how best to attend to their needs through their care and health, it is important to make sure all areas of the body are given ample attention so that seniors can make healthy choices, implement medications or treatments, and live their lives with the necessary knowledge concerning what they need to do to keep themselves healthy. Knowing that bones are more likely to experience challenges with age, and understanding the measures to take to help attend to bones through health-promoting lifestyle choices and appropriate medical testing, knowledge-building, and consultation with a healthcare professional, can allow the seniors of Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge to keep themselves and their bones in good shape even as they age.