Osteoporosis and Aging

Osteoporosis and Aging

Nursing Home Residents Care

Osteoporosis in the Elderly

During the first 30 years of a person's life, the process of bone formation and bone loss ( bone resorption ) is continuous. But, at the approximate age of 30, things begin to change, and more bone is lost than is formed as a person gets older. Some reduction( bone resorption ) in bone mass density is normal. However, when the bone loss becomes severe, it is called osteoporosis. People with osteoporosis are much more likely to suffer fractures that are unrelated to trauma. The cause of osteoporosis is still unclear.

The Cause of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often related to estrogen deficiency that is associated with menopause and reduced calcium intake. It is estimated that osteoporosis affects about 45 percent of all post-menopausal white women. According to a 1993 conference of the National Osteoporosis Foundation and others, osteoporosis is a systemic skeletal disease characterized by low bone mass and micro-architectural deterioration of bone tissue, with a consequent increase in bone fragility and susceptibility to fractures.

Osteoporosis Facts

Osteoporosis is a major public health threat for 28 million Americans,80 percent of whom are women. In the U.S. today, 10 million individuals already have osteoporosis and 18 million more have low bone mass, placing them at increased risk for osteoporosis. One out of every two women, and one in eight men over 50 will have an osteoporosis - related fracture in their lifetime. More than two million American men suffer from osteoporosis and millions more are at risk. Each year, 80,000 men suffer a hip fracture due to osteoporosis, and one-third of these men die within a year. About 1.5 million fractures a year can be attributed to osteoporosis,and more than 28 million Americans are considered to be at risk for osteoporosis. Nearly 200,000 women suffer hip fractures every year as a result of osteoporosis. 20 percent of these women will die of complications within the first year.

Risk Factors of Osteoporosis

The following risk factors can contribute to the development of osteoporosis and bone loss.

  • Females have less bone mass, which is also affected by menopausal changes
  • Caucasians are more susceptible to losing bone mass and developing osteoporosis
  • Family history genetics may contribute to a person's susceptibility to osteoporosis
  • People of smaller stature are more likely to experience a loss of bone mass and osteoporosis
  • Low levels of weight bearing activity contribute to osteoporosis, especially for those who are bedfast or wheelchair bound
  • Heavy cigarette smoking or alcohol use are other contributing factors to bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Chronic conditions affecting the gastrointestinal, pulmonary, renal, hepatic and endocrine systems can contribute to bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Chronic use of glucocorticoid medication, dilantin, certain antacids, cancer and thyroid hormones can lead to bone loss and osteoporosis

Signs and Symptoms of Osteoporosis and Bone Mass Loss

Unfortunately, osteoporosis typically is not detected until a person loses 25 to 40 percent of their bone calcium. There are no obvious signs or symptoms of osteoporosis until the disease is advanced. Following are some common symptoms of osteoporosis.

  • Loss of tooth support
  • Hyphosis, or developing a humped back, also known as "dowager's hump" or "widow's hump".
  • Loss of height
  • Acute and chronic back pain
  • A reduction in volume of the chest and abdominal cavities (these lead to difficulties with gastrointestinal and respiratory activity)

How to Prevent Osteoporosis

The following are ways to prevent or reduce the chances of developing osteoporosis:

  • Stop smoking
  • Increase calcium intake
  • Adjust body weight to within range for ideal body weight given bone structure
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Establish a 30 minute/day exercise routine to improve strength, endurance, circulation, and joint flexibility. Weight bearing exercise (like walking) is crucial.
  • Correct/treat underlying physiological problems
  • Establish a bladder / management program to ensure safe toileting process (avoid falls)

Foods High in Calcium Help Fight Osteoporosis

You should consume foods high in calcium, such as the following,to help prevent osteoporosis:

  • Dark, green leafy vegetables
  • Dairy products, skim milk, yogurt, low fat cheese
  • Salmon
  • Tofu
  • Almonds

Important Vitamins and Minerals to Help Prevent Osteoporosis

  • Vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption. Vitamin D, calderol, helps regulate serum calcium as it is necessary to facilitate calcium absorption in the intestines.
  • Calcium carbonate pills are best absorbed with meals
  • Fiber prevents calcium absorption to some extent
  • Calcium carbonate supplements - caltrate, os-cal
  • Sodium Fluoride - an adjunct treatment in combination with calcium and vitamin D

Treatment of Osteoporosis

Most doctors recommend ERT, estrogen replacement therapy ( premarin) beginning at menopause and continuing indefinitely to help prevent osteoporosis. There is no definite evidence that beginning ERT after age 70 is beneficial in the prevention of osteoporosis. The risk of breast cancer associated with ERT remains a subject of debate. Drugs that aid in the treatment and management of osteoporosis: Alendronate (fosamax) helps prevent bone resorption. This slows the progression of osteoporosis. Calcitonin (miacalcin) is a hormone secreted by the thyroid gland. It is taken as a nasal spray. This has been shown to increase spinal bone mass.

Commitment to the Health of Elderly Nursing Home Residents

Nursing home lawyer Jeffrey H. Rasansky is committed to improving the health and well being of nursing home residents. While osteoporosis occurs in elderly nursing home residents, the nursing home is responsible for proper care of patients suffering from osteoporosis. If you feel your loved one has suffered neglect, negligence or abandonment by the nursing home staff, contact an experienced nursing home lawyer at the Law Offices of Jeff Rasansky. We can help. Jeff Rasansky is licensed to practice before all state courts in Texas, the United States District Courts in the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas and the Fifth United States Circuit Court of Appeals.

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