By Richard Ueberfluss
Osteoporosis is a disease of the bones that happens when you lose too much bone, make too little bone or both. As a result, your bones become weak and may break from a minor fall or, in serious cases, even from sneezing or bumping into furniture.
Although osteoporosis is more common as people age and family history can raise your risk for it, it’s not a natural part of aging, according to health experts.
After years of bone growth throughout childhood, most people reach their peak bone mass in their mid-20s to mid-30s. The higher your peak bone mass at that age, the more bone your body has to sustain bone health the rest of your life.
One of the real dangers of bone loss density is that falls can lead to serious injuries. Data suggests that approximately 90% of hip fractures are due to falls. Several modifiable factors that may mitigate fall risk include a home safety assessment, alcohol cessation, evaluation of vision, review of medications (specifically psychoactive medications), and orthostatic blood pressure assessment.
Now there is evidence that family history contributes to osteoporosis risk. Having a parent or sibling with the disease puts you at greater risk, especially if your mother or father had a hip fracture.
Women are at higher risk, particularly past menopause. Keep in mind, about 20 percent of people diagnosed with osteoporosis are male. Both men and women with small body frames tend to have a higher risk because they may have less bone mass to draw from as they age.
Although there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are steps you can take to prevent, slow or stop its progress. In some cases, you may even be able to improve bone density and reverse the disorder to some degree.
If you think you are at risk, ask your health provider about adding calcium and vitamin D to your heath regimen. You might also discuss other medications that can reduce the risk of broken bones. These medicines either slow or stop bone loss or rebuilding bone.
If you or a loved one has osteoporosis, in addition to medications, home health care aides can help create a regimen of weight-bearing exercises that are often an option for osteoporosis patients, and it might even help your bones. Again, talk to a health care provider before starting a new fitness program.
There is increasing evidence that seniors living at home have shown significant reduction of falls and fractures following exercise intervention, with the benefit increasing with escalating intensity of the exercise. Studies also show that even the frailest elderly had good participation, especially when the exercise consisted of resistance training.
The bottom line is that while there is no cure for osteoporosis, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the severity of the disease and if the disease is already present, home health providers can help offer some relief and prevent falls.
For more information, visit Assisting Hands® Home Health at www.assistinghands.com/chicagoland-naperville/