5 tips to promote elderly bone health

There are many reasons why elderly people should be aware of their overall bone health, especially since one in three adults over the age of 65 fall each year. And these falls often lead to moderate to severe injures which not only diminish quality of life but can also lead to other complications and even cause an early death. So what should a person do? For the elderly, it’s not so different from what is suggested for average people to maintain bone health throughout their lives, including having a healthy diet, sufficient physical activity and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Below are five tips to promote bone health in the elderly, adapted from articles by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the Center for Disease Control.

1. Have a balanced diet. Many nutrients are important for bone health. That’s why having a daily well-balanced diet with a variety of foods (grains, fruits, vegetables, nonfat or low-fat diary products, meat or beans) is key. The more calcium-rich a food item is, the better it is for your bones. In addition to a person’s normal diet, look for calcium-fortified foods to meet recommended levels.

2. Take your vitamins. The elderly are especially susceptible to having low levels of vitamin D. If getting enough sunlight is not practical, look to boost vitamin D levels through diet or, if all else fails, through supplements. Recent studies have found that vitamin C may also prevent bone loss, helping to fight off osteoporosis.

3. Stay physically active. It’s recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day. In addition to this, specific strength-bearing exercises are critical to building and maintaing bone mass throughout a person’s life. For the elderly, it’s common for do exercises that promote balance (and in turn reduce the risk of falling). Of course, always keep a person’s physical limitations in mind. If there are ever any questions regarding a person’s physical health, it’s best to first consult a doctor or trained health care professional before embarking on an exercise program.

4. Maintain a healthy body weight. Studies have shown that excess fat in the belly and around the organs (visceral fat) is linked to lower bone mineral density. The human body is designed to operate optimally at it’s ideal weight. That said, carrying around extra pounds invariably leads to decreased bone health and an increased risk for developing just about every other chronic degenerative disease.

5. Get screened for osteoporosis. Adults 65 and over should get screened for osteoporosis and, if needed, treated for the disease. Height loss and joint/muscles aches are common symptoms. Osteoporosis (i.e., bone loss) leads to an increased risk of bone fractures, among other complications. Older women are especially at risk.

Are there any other tips we missed regarding promoting bone health among the elderly? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments.

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