Because bone is living tissue, it is always being broken down and replaced within the body. Osteoporosis takes place when the creation of new bone is no longer keeping up with the loss of old bone. Osteoporosis makes a person’s bones become weak and brittle, increasing the likelihood of more breaks and/or more severe breakage when your parent injures herself. When it gets too bad, even coughing or bending over can cause a bone to fracture.
While osteoporosis can affect both men and women, it is often white and Asian women that who are at the highest risk of developing osteoporosis. If you are concerned about your elderly parent developing osteoporosis, here are some of the risk factors that could increase her chance of developing the condition.
Some will be out of her control, but there are also risk factors that you and her health team, including her home care services provider, can address to help reduce her risk, especially if she has other high-risk levels that can’t be altered.
- Sex. Women are much more likely to develop osteoporosis.
- Age. The older your parent gets and once your parent has gone through menopause, the greater the risk.
- Race. Women of white or Asian descent are more likely to get osteoporosis.
- Family History. If your parent has a family history of other women with osteoporosis, she’ll be more likely to develop it.
- Body Frame Size. If your parent has a small body frame, she’ll be more likely to suffer from osteoporosis because she’ll have less bone mass to draw from as she gets older.
Here are a few risk factors that you and their home care services aides can work with your parent to address and reduce.
Diet. While it’s important that your parent had a high calcium intake her entire life, even increasing her calcium intake at this point will help. Encourage your parent to eat and drink foods that are rich in calcium, such as milk, cheese, yogurt, and even green leafy vegetables. Dried legumes and fish with bones in them are other great sources of calcium. Have your home care services provider help keep your parent well stocked in these products so she eats them regularly.
Exercise. A sedentary lifestyle creates a higher risk of osteoporosis. Weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running, jumping, dancing and weightlifting all help bones to be stronger and then be able to sustain some loss as the body gets older without having as many fractures or breaks.
Alcohol Consumption. More than two drinks per day have shown to have a correlation to an increased risk of osteoporosis. Your parent should reduce how much alcohol she drinks, especially if she has other non-negotiable risk factors.
Tobacco Use. While it’s not understood why, those who use tobacco seem to be more prone to develop osteoporosis. For a myriad of health benefits, quitting smoking will improve your parent’s health.
Talk to your parent’s doctor if you have started to notice some of the symptoms of osteoporosis or if you have concerns about your parent developing it so you can create a strategy to help the bones your parent has to stay healthy and strong.