What to Expect When a Loved One Is Experiencing Osteoporosis

Elderly woman trying to walk

Knowing the Signs of Osteoporosis in Seniors

Steps to Take for Prevention and Treatment

McGregor has been highlighting the ten most common health issues related to aging for Cleveland seniors. We’ve covered cognitive decline, balance issues, oral health problems, and heart disease, and we still have more to come. Be sure to check back regularly so that you and your family can better understand the signs of common health issues and help your loved one navigate the next steps.

Osteoporosis is a condition that impacts the bones of older adults. As seniors lose bone mass, their bones become more fragile and are easier to break. While osteoporosis can be more common in people with a family history of the condition, bone loss has many causes: They can include a poor diet, smoking, lack of physical activity, or other medical conditions. Because the progression of osteoporosis does not usually cause pain, some people may not discover they have the condition until they fracture a bone. Others may see visible signs, like curvature of their back or a loss of height.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2030 initiative, more than 10 million people ages 50 years and older have osteoporosis. 43 million more people have low bone mass, which increases their risk for osteoporosis. The Cleveland Clinic notes that after the age of 50, one in every two women and one in every four men will experience a bone fracture related to osteoporosis in their lifetimes.


Symptoms of Progressing Osteoporosis

If your loved one is experiencing any of the following, they should speak with their doctor about potential bone loss and an osteoporosis diagnosis.

  • Bone pain
  • Curvature of the spine (or stooped posture)
  • Loss of height up to 6 inches
  • Changes in posture or body shape
  • Low back pain or neck pain


Can Osteoporosis Be Prevented?

The best prevention for osteoporosis is to maintain strong, healthy bones. This can be achieved through a healthy and active lifestyle, including the following:

  • Follow a healthy diet that includes high-calcium foods.
  • Participate in regular bone-building exercises (walking, dancing, aerobics, lifting weights).
  • Limit your alcohol use.
  • Avoid tobacco use.
  • Get plenty of vitamin D through your diet and safe sun exposure.


Can Osteoporosis Be Treated?

There are several options to treat osteoporosis, including exercise, vitamin and mineral supplements, and a variety of medications. Your doctor may encourage weight-bearing, resistance, and balance exercises to help build bone strength and supplement any recommended medications.

If you or your loved one is experiencing the signs of osteoporosis, we encourage you to speak to a primary care physician who can arrange for X-rays and provide a professional diagnosis and treatment plan. Our team is here if we can provide any guidance or support.


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