Not Just Your Grandma’s Disease

No doubt about it. We are an aging population with increasing risks for illnesses of old age. But did you know that by 2020 half of those over 50 will be at risk for fractures due to poor bone health?

 

In 2004, 10 million American over 50 had osteoporosis and another 34 million were at risk for developing it. Osteoporosis puts an individual at risk for fractures, often from a low-trauma incident. Fractures are a leading cause of hospital admissions and disability among older individuals.

 

Osteoporosis is caused by loss of minerals from your bones. It results in bones that are weakened by holes or spaces, something like how a termite weakens wood. Osteoporosis risk factors include:

 

  • Getting older
  • Being small and thin
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Being a white or Asian woman
  • Having osteopenia, which is low bone mass

 

Osteoporosis used to be thought of as an old woman’s disease. But not any more! Now we know that everyone needs to be thinking about bone health from an early age. Osteoporosis is a silent disease. Often the first sign is a fracture. You can’t do anything about your heredity. But osteoporosis can be prevented or minimized by taking control of your lifestyle.

 

  • Get enough calcium and Vitamin D, at every age.
  • Be physically active.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about your medications. As if they may be weakening your bones.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being UNDERWEIGHT raises your risk of bone loss.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking raises your risk of bone loss.
  • Limit alcohol use. Alcohol may increase the risk of bone loss.

 

Health – it’s about prevention.

 

For more about osteoporosis see

 

MedlinePlus 

Senior Health 

 

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Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN

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