Osteoporosis is a common problem in the elderly, especially in women. Bones are designed to grow constantly – as older bone dies away, new bone grows to take its place. As we age, though, this regrowth is slower, and the new bone doesn’t grow as fast as it should. More bone mass is lost than is gained, resulting in a higher risk for fractures and problems like stooping or shrinking.
Everyone is at risk for osteoporosis, but the people most predisposed to this condition are women and people of smaller statue (who already have less bone mass, and can’t afford to lose any more). Age is also a factor, as the risk for osteoporosis increases along with age, and makes bones become weak and brittle and prone to breakage.
Thyroid problems and a naturally lower amount of sex hormones can leave one open to osteoporosis as well, but osteoporosis can also be caused by things we do ourselves. For example, poor nutrition, not getting enough calcium, eating disorders, and elective stomach shrinking surgeries can also leave you at a higher risk for osteoporosis, because your body is not getting the things it needs to prevent it. Smoking, excess alcohol consumption, and a non-active lifestyle are also risk factors that can be avoided.
But now that we know what causes osteoporosis, how can we know if it is affecting the elderly loved one we care for?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is complicated.
There are no proven signs and symptoms of osteoporosis, as it happens inside the bones, where we cannot see what is going on. However, there are a few things to look out for that might suggest this disease, such as:
- Back pain – Chronic back pain with no identifiable cause could be a sign that there is a problem inside the bones in the spine, and should be checked out by a doctor.
- Stooping – Did your mother used to stand up straighter when she walked? A stooping or hunched posture can be a signal that one’s bones are not growing or regulating themselves the way they should, which makes it difficult to stand up straight.
- Shrinking – Did you father used to be taller? Reduced bone mass can lead to someone actually beginning to shrink: less bone mass equals less bone, which can equal less height. If you notice that your aging loved one seems to be getting shorter, consider visiting the doctor to see if osteoporosis is the culprit.
- Broken bones or fractures – It should take quite a bit of force to break a bone, even in seniors. However, if fractures are occurring too easily, say, as a result of trying to open a jar or from coughing too hard, it is time to start talking about the possibility of osteoporosis.
A big part of elderly care is being vigilant. Another part is taking steps to prevent conditions like osteoporosis from occurring, by making sure that the senior in your care is getting all of the proper nutrients and exercise that they need. Keep an eye on your aging loved one, and if you notice any of the above symptoms, make sure to call a doctor before they progress too far.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering elderly care in Marlton, NJ, please contact the caring staff at TLC Home Care Services today. Call (856) 234-8700 for more information.
Kelly C. McCabe is a founding partner and co-owner of TLC HomeCare Services.She and her business partner,Patti Maltese founded TLC HomeCare Services in March of 2009.In addition to management, marketing and sales, staffing and recruiting, Kelly holds her New Jersey producer’s license in Health and Life insurance and is also a New Jersey Certified Home Health Aide.Kelly is the proud mother of two daughters and is a resident of Moorestown, NJ.
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