Osteoporosis can affect both men and women of all races, but it has a tendency to occur more often in Asian and white women who are past menopause. It is also hereditary so if you have an older relative who had osteoporosis, it’s more likely that your aging parent may either already have it or develop it. Osteoporosis makes the bones become weak and brittle. They can be so brittle that a fall or even mild stresses such as bending over or coughing can cause a fracture to occur. Osteoporosis-related fractures most commonly happen in the hip, wrist, or spine.
The good news is that there are things you can help your aging parent do to reduce her risk of developing osteoporosis. And these lifestyle changes can also help slow down the progression if she already has started to lose bone mass.
If your parent is a smoker, another good reason to quit is to reduce her risk of developing osteoporosis. It’s not known why, but tobacco use contributes to bone loss. Help your parent find a good cessation program – a person is never too old to quit. You can then have the people in her life, such as your family and the person who helps with companion care at home, provide positive support as she quits.
If your parent spends most of her day not moving around, she may have a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. Exercise that moves her body, such as swimming, biking, and walking coupled with strength-training exercises can help her bones continue to stay strong. Any activity should first be cleared by her physician, who may give limits on what she can do safely. And having a professional who provides companion care at home, assist your parent with any strength-training activities is a great way to keep her safe and also accountable for getting the exercise she needs.
Stay away from too much alcohol.
While an occasional drink will not hurt, excessive alcohol consumption of more than two drinks every day will increase the risk of osteoporosis.
Drink more milk.
Increasing calcium intake is important for bone health. If your parent isn’t a big fan of milk, there are also some great foods that can help her increase her calcium intake. The next time she heads to the grocery store with you, pick up some dark, green leafy vegetables, low-fat dairy products like cheese and yogurt, and canned salmon or sardines with bones. If these items are new to your parent’s diet and she’s not sure how to prepare them, a companion care at home provider can help her prep the items and even bake them up in some delicious new meals.
Vitamin D is another important nutrient to protect your parent’s body from osteoporosis. Sunlight is the best resource for Vitamin D. If your climate makes getting enough sun tough, look into getting a supplement for your parent.
Start now by helping your parent incorporate these lifestyle changes so she doesn’t have to worry about broken bones in the future.