Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis

Another disease that greatly affects seniors' independence and mobility is osteoporosis. It is a progressive disease that causes bones to become thin, porous, and weak (WebMD, 2003). The loss of bone mass is part of the natural aging process; however, those with osteoporosis have accelerated loss. Anyone who does not develop sufficient bone mineral density in youth is apt to develop osteoporosis later in life. However, women are more likely to have the disease, evidenced by the disease's trademark hunched posture.

Osteoporosis is often called the "silent disease" because symptoms do not appear in its early stages. As the disease progresses, symptoms do emerge, including:

  • back pain;
  • loss of height and stooped posture
  • curved spine
  • bone fractures, especially in the hip, back vertebrae, and wrists.

A diagnosis of osteopenia, often called pre-osteoporsis, indicates that one's bone mineral density is lower than normal but bones have not yet thinned to the point of osteoporosis.

Treatment for osteoporosis or osteopenia includes a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, appropriate regular exercise, and certain medications to increase bone thickness. Treatment largely mirrors the steps for prevention. The body's anatural bone thinning can be reduced or delayed with healthy lifestyle habits such as not smoking, getting sufficient calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D in the diet, and exercising regularly to strengthen bones (WebMD, 2003).

The above information was provided by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors (SCSA)