No Bones About It: May is National Osteoporosis Month

No Bones About It: May is National Osteoporosis Month

May is National Osteoporosis Month. Osteoporosis and bone loss are major health concerns for seniors, and raising awareness of the risk factors and causes of the disease is an important part of senior care. This May, take a moment to learn more about what may put you at risk of osteoporosis, and what you can do to prevent it.

What to watch out for
According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, the disease affects roughly 10 million people nationwide. Women are particularly at risk, as it’s estimated that 80 percent of osteoporosis sufferers are women. This is largely due to decreased levels of estrogen after menopause, which can contribute to loss of bone density. That said, osteoporosis still poses serious health risks for senior men. In fact, men are 50 percent more likely to suffer an osteoporotic fracture than they are to get prostate cancer, the NOF reported.

While there are a variety of lifestyle-related influencers, many risk factors are unavoidable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women, specifically post-menopausal women, are at a significantly higher risk of developing osteoporosis, as are older seniors and those with smaller frames. Seniors who fall into any of these groups should take extra care to be especially vigilant when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Steps to prevention
Even if you belong to a high-risk group, there are simple changes to your lifestyle you can adopt to minimize your risk and keep your bones healthier longer. One of the simplest and most important efforts you can take is to supplement your diet with more calcium. The CDC recommended a diet rich in dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as dark, leafy greens, which also tend to be good sources of calcium. The organization indicated that seniors over 50 should be aiming to eat about 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day.

In addition to managing your diet, the NOF suggested seniors looking to stave off osteoporosis can adopt a regular exercise regimen. The best sorts of exercises for preserving bone health are weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening. The former includes more active aerobic exercises such as running, dancing or playing sports, while the latter focuses more on strength training with activities such as weight lifting. Regularly performing these exercises, even if only low intensity, can help simultaneously build bone and muscle strength, preventing fractures and helping to prevent falls.