Bone health is a serious concern for seniors, as our bones naturally lose density and become weaker as we age. Staving off this decline is important, since weak bones (osteoporosis) can lead to breaks and other injuries—and women are especially at risk. Read on for some strategies your loved one can try to help maintain bone health through the senior years.
1. Increase Vitamin D and Calcium Intake
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is critical for strong bones, so make sure your loved one gets a healthy dose. Milk is the obvious choice, but you can also get vitamin D from green, leafy vegetables, beans, shrimp, nuts, and calcium fortified orange juice, as well as from a dietary supplement. Women older than age 50 and men older than age 70 should consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Men between the ages of 51 and 70 should consume 1,000 mg of calcium a day.
2. Step Up the Exercise
Working out isn’t just for muscles–it keeps bones strong as well. If it’s safe for your family member to exercise, the Grand Rapids senior home care experts recommend he or she gets about 30 minutes most days of the week. High-impact weight-bearing exercises are best for building strong bones, and include dancing, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, and tennis. However, if your loved one can only do low impact activities like walking and swimming, these will also help strengthen bones.
3. Stamp Out Smoking
Using tobacco keeps the body from using the calcium it consumes. It also makes women go through menopause earlier than those who do not smoke, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. Drinking also causes weak bones.
4. Evaluate Prescriptions
Medications for some conditions, such as arthritis and asthma, can cause bone loss. Talk with your loved one’s doctor to help combat this side effect if he or she is taking any glucocorticoids.
If you care for a loved one older than age 65, encourage him or her to ask the doctor for a bone density test, which can evaluate risk for osteoporosis and help you, your senior loved one, and the physician plan a course of action.
You can also seek hourly or live-in care from Home Care Assistance, a top provider of Alzheimer’s and dementia care in Grand Rapids. One of our trusted and experienced caregivers can cook healthy meals for your loved one, provide mobility support and fall prevention, and promote and overall healthy lifestyle. To learn more, call 616-243-0835 and schedule a free in-home consultation with a friendly Care Manager.