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Supporting someone living with osteoporosis

It’s natural to be concerned about how osteoporosis will affect a loved one’s life following diagnosis. Quality of life difficulties vary within each person, and whilst some may never experience a bone fracture, the symptoms may worsen with age.

If a friend or loved one has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, it’s important to help them implement lifestyle changes to cope with it.

What is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and brittle, such as that even a minor accident can cause a broken bone. It occurs when bones lose minerals such as calcium more quickly than it can replace them, decreasing bone density.

The hormone estrogen helps to make and rebuild bones, which is why osteoporosis is more common amongst elderly women as they’ve lost a lot of bone mass following menopause. However, men can get osteoporosis too.

Approximately 920, 000 Australians suffer from this condition, but it is still very much underdiagnosed. The reason for this is there are usually very little symptoms until a fractured bone happens, which can lead to serious health complications amongst seniors. The spine, hips, ribs and wrists are the most common, and such fractures can lead to chronic pain, disability and loss of independence amongst elderly people.

Physical support for those living with osteoporosis

The main way to support someone with osteoporosis is to provide lifestyle advice to reduce the risk of falls. You can do this by ensuring their physical environment is free of stairs or trip hazards such as ridges in floors and carpets and even poor lighting which can make it hard to see clearly. Additionally, you can also encourage them to partake in appropriate weight-bearing exercises such as yoga, as these have been proven to strengthen bones and improve balance to minimise the risk of falling.

Eating a balanced diet is also an essential part in helping slow the rate of bone thinning. Oftentimes, older adults feel less inclined to eat a balanced diet due to loss in appetite and a decreased ability to cook. However, it is so important for them to maintain a healthy calcium and protein intake to prevent bones from becoming even more fragile. You should also encourage them to go for walks outside so they can get frequent exposure to sunlight and increase their Vitamin D exposure.

Supporting someone emotionally with osteoporosis

It’s important to remember that elderly adults may feel reluctant to ask for help for fear of being a burden to their family or friends, or simply because they think they do not need it. Whilst osteoporosis can affect a person’s physical health, it can also take a toll on their emotional health too. Seniors with osteoporosis may feel as though they have lost their independence. In most cases, they will have social limitations that may make them feel isolated and depressed. That’s why it’s important to regularly stay in touch with a loved one or friend who has been diagnosed and visit them frequently if possible.

Whilst lifestyle changes can make a considerable difference to bone health over time, if an older adult has osteoporosis, the best advice they can follow is their GP’s. They will be able to recommend more preventative measures when dealing with this health condition.

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