By Richard Ueberfluss
More than 50 percent of women and 25 percent of men over fifty will suffer from an osteoporosis-related fracture.
Osteoporosis occurs when bone breaks down faster than it is replenished, leaving the skeleton porous and brittle. Women lose bone density more rapidly during menopause, so they are more susceptible to osteoporosis than men.
Multiple medications, poor vision and balance problems also make older people more likely to trip and fall — one of the most common causes of hip fracture.
A hip fracture almost always requires surgical repair or replacement, followed by months of physical therapy. Taking steps to maintain bone density and avoid falls can help prevent hip fracture.
The good news is that hip fractures have dropped by 30 percent since 1995, according to a recent story in The Wall Street Journal.
The drop in hip fractures is puzzling, according to experts, because fewer Americans are taking drugs that help control osteoporosis.
In fact, use of osteoporosis drugs has dropped by more than 50 percent in recent years. One of the reasons is that the drugs often come with serious side effects, such as sudden bone fractures.
The New England Journal of Medicine has estimated that for every 1,000 women with osteoporosis who were treated up to five years with bisphosphonates (a class of drugs that treat osteoporosis such as Fosamax and Reclast), they prevented 100 fractures, and only caused one.
Doctors are split on ways to treat osteoporosis. The Journal for example, quoted orthopedic trauma surgeon at the National Institutes of Health, who recommended that while bisphosphonates are effective, until someone has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, they shouldn’t take the drug for at least five years.
Whether or not medications are used, men and women with osteoporosis should have a senior care agency look for potential tripping hazards in the home that may cause falls.
If osteoporosis patients live alone, many families are using caregivers to stay with the patient to help prevent falls and teaching seniors how to minimize the dangers from falls.