Five Ways to Promote Healthy Bone Mass in Seniors
Are you or your loved one suffering from osteoporosis? This common disease of our elderly population makes bones fragile, brittle, and prone to breaking. Did you know that 30% of postmenopausal women have osteoporosis? This degenerative disease causes 1-in-6 white women to break a hip as a result. Our elderly loved ones can take measures, however, to promote healthy bone mass and reduce the effects of osteoporosis.
It’s no secret that we all need physical activity. What was easy and pleasurable in childhood becomes more strenuous as we age. Children and young adults push their bodies to their limits, and it feels good and easy! Even our elderly seniors can find exercise routines that are gentle but reap big rewards. The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day for adults. Here are some ideas for your elderly loved ones to try to promote healthy bone mass:
Weight-bearing and resistance activities: Weight-bearing exercise routines force the body to work against gravity. Favorite activities walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. Resistance activities such as weight-lifting will also strengthen bones. Also, give water aerobics a try! Performing these types of exercises in the water can be gentler on older joints and muscles.
Yoga, Thai Chi: These gentle exercises build bone mass, coordination and are beneficial for your mental health.
Golf: Golf isn’t just for older adults, though we see why it’s popular. Swinging the club, carrying the bag, and all that walking is excellent for promoting healthy bone mass.
Get Bone Density Scans
You have to have an awareness of what’s happening on the inside of your body. As we age and healthy bone mass deteriorates, you need to get routine checks of where you stand. A bone-density test provides the most accurate information. Known as a dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, this non-invasive test tells the physician if the patient has osteopenia (a precursor to osteoporosis) or full-blown osteoporosis. The doctor can then recommend lifestyle changes and medication as needed.
Calcium and vitamin D are the most critical components to promote healthy bone mass. It’s always ideal to obtain these vitamins naturally in your diet. Calcium is found in many foods, but vitamin D is trickier. In our senior years, you should get at least 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. The Mayo Clinic recommends 400 IUs of vitamin D daily. Adding these vitamin-rich foods to your diet promotes healthy bone mass in seniors:
Dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and milk
Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon
Foods fortified with vitamin D, like orange juice and soy milk
Eat a Balanced Diet
Though they are incredibly important, calcium and vitamin D aren’t the only ways to build strong bones. Fruits and vegetables also have significantly high levels of nutrients essential for skeletal health, including magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K and several B vitamins. Magnesium gets calcium into all cells; vitamins C and K regulate enzymes responsible for strengthening bone; and B vitamins help cells renew and regenerate. Make sure you and your beloved seniors consume at least five servings of fruits and veggies per day to promote healthy bone mass. Salty foods and caffeinated beverages should be eliminated as much as possible from your diet as they do not promote the growth of healthy bone mass.
Quit Smoking & Drink Moderately
Smoking is a bad habit that affects many parts of your body. If you or your favorite senior is still smoking despite all of the literature pointing out the harmful effects, try the angle of healthy bone mass. Nicotine found in cigarettes seems to have detrimental and toxic effects on bone-forming cells. It also lowers estrogen levels, which result in lower bone density.
Pouring a glass or two of wine is fine, even when working to promote healthy bone mass. Many people like to unwind in the evening with a beverage, and studies show that this is acceptable. In fact, researchers theorize that moderate drinking can positively affect estrogen amounts or suppress bone breakdown to release minerals that are used in the rest of the body. As with most things, don’t overdo it, but it’s more than okay to indulge in an adult beverage in moderate amounts when working to achieve healthy bone mass.
Next time you are visiting with your aging loved one, take note of how they are doing. Often, we can gauge their well-being through simple conversation and observing their normal movements and activities. Is Mom having trouble getting around the house or struggling with mobility issues? Is Dad’s speech slower? Were they having difficulty keeping up during a conversation? Perhaps they seem more forgetful than usual, like not remembering significant dates or parts of their daily routine. Perhaps your loved one simply feels lonely? An in-home caregiver may be the solution you need. Such a person can help with these concerns or simply provide some much-needed company. When you can’t be there to look in on your aging loved one, it will bring you peace of mind to know that another trusted person is.
Learn more about how Caregivers United can help support your aging parent or special relative by bringing quality care to your loved one at their home. Call (941) 225-0055 to schedule a free in-home consultation or find us on Facebook and Twitter!