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Educating Yourselves: All about Osteoporosis

January 22, 2021 3 min read

What is Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a chronic disease that weakens bones, making it thinner, more brittle and more likely to break even with minimal trauma. Osteoporosis-related fractures commonly occur in the hip, wrist or spine. It is a silent disease that can affect both Men and Women and it's not just a disease of the elderly.

Signs of Osteoporosis

During early stages of Osteoporosis, there are no obvious signs and symptoms. This is why it's also known as a 'Silent Disease'. It is usually rare that people detect their Osteoporosis in its early stage.

In the later stages, one will experience back pain, loss of height over time, low trauma fracture will incur at the wrist, spine, hip or other major bones. Loss of height can be due to the development of a stooped posture, which may eventually lead to difficulty in eating or breathing. All these will also eventually cause loss of mobility and independence in a senior's life.

Bone Mass

Bone mass and size grows steadily for both males and females. By about 50 years old, an accelerated loss begins for females with onset of menopause as compared to the gradual loss in males.

It is important for us to maximise bone growth and strength when we are younger. An estimated 10% increase of peak bone mass in children can reduce the risk of an osteoporotic fracture during adult life by up to 50%! As we get to middle age, we should be preventing premature bone loss and when we're older adults we should prevent falls and minimise bone loss.

Causes

Lack of calcium: Osteoporosis is caused by bone loss as a result of lack of adequate calcium intake. When blood and tissue calcium levels are too low, the body uses calcium from the bones instead, causing the bones to weaken and become more brittle. 

Lack of exercise: Like our muscles, our bones need us to remain active to develop. Leading a sedentary lifestyle causes our bones to weaken and lead to osteoporosis.

Detection & Diagnosis

Risk Factors

  • Unchangeable
    • Your sex - Women much more likely to develop osteoporosis than men
    • Your age - the older you get, the higher the risk
    • Your race - you're at greater risk if you're white or of Asian descent
    • Family history - you're more at risk if you have parents or siblings have osteoporosis
    • Body frame size - smaller body frames means there's less bone mass to draw from as they age
  • Changeable
    • Hormone levels - lowered sex hormones and too much thyroid hormones can lead to increased risk
    • Dietary factors - low calcium intake or eating disorders can cause weakening of bones
    • Physical activity - sedentary lifestyle increases risk
    • Lifestyle choices - high frequency of alcohol intake and smoking increases risk

Tips for Leading a Bone-healthy Lifestyle

Ageing Well: 5 Essential Health Tips for the Elderly

    • Exercise
    • Spend time outdoors
      • Vitamin D from the sun helps your body absorb calcium from the food you eat which helps to build stronger bones
    • Diet
      • Maintain a calcium-rich and protein-rich diet
      • Ensure an adequate daily intake of foods such as milk, dairy products, dark leafy vegetables, calcium-fortified snacks, eggs, and fish.
      • Drink alcoholic beverages in moderation
    • Avoid smoking
    • Check for Osteoporosis risk factors regularly

    Read our 7-Day Guide to Active Ageing Here >>

    Importance of Fall Prevention

    Osteoporosis suffers are more susceptible to fractures from falls hence it is important to eliminate risks where possible. Take steps to modify your home to make it a safer space that is free of falls!

    Grab bars, non-slip flooring, good lighting and appropriate walking aids are all excellent ways to ensure stability at home and even outdoors.

    Read our Ultimate Guide to Fall Prevention At Home or download our free E-book on Creating An Elder-Friendly Home for more information on how to fall-proof your home.

     

     


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