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How Seniors Can Increase Bone Density

How Seniors Can Increase Bone Density

How Seniors Can Increase Bone Density

Bone density plays a key factor in bone health. Seniors with low bone density are vulnerable to fractures. In general, bone density indicates how likely a bone will break. Older people, however, can increase their bone density and help prevent bone loss.

What is bone density?

Bones are living tissue. These bones contain minerals, primarily phosphorous and calcium—and bone density is the amount of these minerals contained within a specific area of bone. Calcium and phosphorous make up 65 percent of bone and give it its rigidity and hardness.

As people age, their bones continue to grow and change. Living cells and tissue make up bone, and they are continually involved in processes that break down old bone and rebuild new bone. By a person’s late 20s, they have reached their peak bone density (aka bone mass).

After 50, the aging body loses bone faster than it is able to rebuild it. Especially within 5 to 7 years after menopause, elderly women can lose 20 percent of their bone density. Low bone density, called osteopenia, affects 43.3 million adults in the US.

Low bone density results in the growth of larger spaces within the bone. The outer walls of the honeycomb-like structures in the bone also become thinner. Both of these age-related changes in bone cause it to become weaker and increasingly subject to fractures.

A loss of bone density and the deterioration of bone structure can lead to osteoporosis. Men and women diagnosed with osteoporosis have a higher risk for painful bone fractures. It is therefore important for older adults to take steps to increase their bone density.

1. Exercise

Seniors who are engaged in regular exercise promote new bone growth. Lifting weights and other forms of strength training help to not only encourage new bone growth but maintain current bone structure. Several additional health benefits are associated with weightlifting.

Working out with dumbbells increases bone mineral density and bone size. Weightlifting protects seniors against bone loss. It also increases their muscle mass and reduces inflammation. Older adults who aim for better bone health should lift weights at least twice per week.

2. Consume Calcium

Optimum bone health relies on calcium, a mineral that is primarily stored in the bones. Seniors are urged to consume adequate amounts of calcium throughout the day through food. Women over age 50 and men over age 71 are advised to consume 1,200 mg per day of calcium.

Rather than rely on one meal packed with calcium, eat several smaller nutritious meals each day. High-calcium foods include milk, cheese, and yogurt. Many other foods, like beans and sardines, are also rich in calcium. A calcium deficiency can lead to reduced bone density.

3. Get Vitamin D

A loss of bone density is linked with a vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is essential for helping the body absorb calcium. Moderate sun exposure helps seniors absorb vitamin D. Some foods are fortified with vitamin D, including orange juice, soy milk, and cereals.

Since not many foods naturally contain vitamin D, aging adults might consider taking supplements. Before the age of 70, adults require at least 600 IU of vitamin D. People 70 and older should take at least 800 IU of vitamin D daily. Chewable versions of supplements are available.

4. Eat More Vegetables

Incorporating more vegetables into a daily diet not only helps protect bone from damage but also helps seniors maintain a healthy weight. Being underweight puts aging adults at risk for developing bone diseases, while being overweight adds stress on the bones.

Maintain bone density and strength by consuming yellow vegetables and dark leafy greens, like cabbage, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, and herbs. Vegetables provide an ample supply of potassium and polyphenols, which can result in reduced bone turnover and calcium loss.

5. Quit Smoking

Seniors who smoke are at risk for weaker bones. Smoking cigarettes can lead to osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Developing osteoporosis can increase an older adult’s risk for bone fractures. Increasing bone density requires that seniors make an effort to quit smoking.

6. Limit Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol contributes to decreased bone health. Poor calcium absorption and a decrease in bone density occur when seniors drink heavily. Older adults are advised to limit their alcohol intake or stop drinking altogether to support healthy bone density.

Additional steps seniors can take to increase their bone density include eating a protein-rich diet and consuming foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon, nuts, and seeds. Foods that are plentiful in magnesium and zinc, such as whole grains and legumes, are also recommended.

Seniors can promote their bone health by exercising, eating nutritiously, and avoiding unhealthy habits. When the older person in your life needs help in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, caregivers from Assisting Hands Home Care can be an invaluable source of support.

We are a highly rated senior home care agency with a staff of compassionate caregivers who ensure the health and well-being of older adults. Our professional caregivers prepare nutritious meals full of vitamins and proteins, which can help promote the senior’s bone health.

If your elderly loved one needs to visit the doctor to measure bone health, our caregivers provide transportation to the physician’s office. We also accompany seniors throughout their trip so that they feel safe and secure. Caregivers can provide transport to senior centers and exercise classes, too.

Our elder care services are flexible and wide-ranging. We offer respite care, live-in care, 24-hour care, Alzheimer’s care, hospice home care, and post-surgical care, among many other in-home care options. Families and seniors find comprehensive, customized care to meet their needs.

Assisting Hands Home Care fulfills the care needs of seniors who want to age in place. Our caregivers support the activities of daily living of older adults living in Buffalo GroveGrayslakeGreen OaksHawthorn WoodsHighland ParkLake ForestLake ZurichLibertyvilleLincolnshireMundeleinRound Lake BeachVernon Hills, IL and the surrounding areas. Schedule a free in-home consultation and begin a journey toward better health. Call us today at (224) 268-9068.