Osteoporosis is a debilitating condition that can make even the simplest movements painful or even impossible for those who suffer from it. Often referred to as ‘the silent thief’ because it can go undetected until a bone has been fractured, there are certain risk factors and things caregivers can do to help minimize the risks. As compassionate Palo Alto caregivers, we want to share some important information with readers.
Osteoporosis is responsible for up to 90% of hip fractures in those aged 65 and older who are hospitalized each year. You can see why preventing bone decline is so important!
What are the risk factors? There are some risks that cannot be controlled, and others that may be possible to control.
Those that cannot be controlled include:
- Age – those 50 and over are at an increased risk
- Gender – while men may develop osteoporosis, it’s more common in women
- Family history – genetics play a huge role in the health/medical conditions of family members
Risk factors that may be modified include:
- Unhealthy habits – smoking, drinking alcohol in excess, eating unhealthy foods, not exercising, etc.
- Poor nutrition
- Vitamin D or calcium deficiencies
- Lack of physical activity (exercise)
- Low BMI
The most important things caregivers can do is to try to ensure a senior eats a balanced diet and engages in regular physical activity. Regular exercise helps maintain strong bones and muscles, and aids in sustaining mobility – important for reducing the risk of falls. Caregivers can supervise seniors in strength training, stretching, balance training, and other exercise developed around the individual’s physical capability.
What foods are best in terms of nutrients and good bone health? Foods that are rich in calcium, protein, and vitamin D are vital. Vitamin A, magnesium, and vitamin K are also important. Foods containing these nutrients and micronutrients include potatoes, bananas, sweet potatoes, dairy products, oranges, broccoli, brussels sprout, red and green peppers, and tomato products, to name a few. For lactose intolerant individuals, dairy alternatives include almond and soy milk, sherbet, and foods rich in calcium such as seafood and leafy green vegetables.
There are also several medications on the market today that are designed to help reduce the risk of fractures. Your senior should talk to his/her physician to see if any of these medications may be suitable and effective.
At Care Indeed, we know the importance of strong bones and muscles for helping seniors age gracefully, and without the pain and disability osteoporosis can cause. If you need a helping hand caring for an aging loved one, our Palo Alto home caregivers are caring, professional, and dedicated to helping seniors enjoy an improved quality of life.