Do we really shrink as we get older? According to Harvard Medical School, people typically lose about half an inch in height per decade starting as early as age 40. There are several reasons behind this phenomenon, some of which you may be able to control or at least delay.
As we age, our spine not only loses bone density, but the discs and space between our spinal vertebra wear down and become thinner. This can contribute to osteoporosis and that common “hunched-over” appearance in the geriatric population. If you are losing more than a half an inch each decade, this could be a warning sign that you have osteoporosis.
Nearly 10 million people in the United States suffer from osteoporosis, but this is not an inevitable condition. There are ways to prevent osteoporosis and ensure your bones are healthy and standing tall in your senior phase of life.
Why Seniors Are at High Risk for Osteoporosis
Some degree of bone loss is part of the natural aging process. Bones become depleted when they are not properly nourished and stimulated. Seniors are especially at risk for osteoporosis due to poor appetites and low intake of calcium and other nutrients. In addition, many seniors become less active, which can cause joints and muscles to become weaker and less flexible. Finally, seniors tend to spend more time indoors than outdoors, which can lower their Vitamin D intake – a vitamin that is essential for strong bones!
Tips for Bone Healthy Life
Osteoporosis and low bone density in geriatric adults doesn’t just affect their height. In fact, the major risk of weak bones is bone fractures and bone breaks, especially after falling. This can begin a downward spiral to health struggles and poor quality of life.
Fortunately, there are things you can do starting in your 40’s and 50’s that can foster a healthy set of bones, including the following:
- Eat a balanced diet that includes ample calcium and Vitamin D.
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity that involves weights, low-impact training and balance exercises.
- Work to improve your posture in all daily activities.
- Remove items in your home that you may trip over.
- Do not smoke or vape.
- Limit alcohol use.
Schedule a Bone Density Screening
At the office of Dr. Brent Michael, we proudly offer complete geriatric care. Our services include low radiation bone density screenings to ensure we catch and treat the earliest signs of osteoporosis. This means we can detect poor bone mass before you break a bone.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that you have a bone density test if:
- you are a woman age 65 or older
- you are a man age 70 or older
- you break a bone after age 50
- you are a woman of menopausal age with risk factors
- you are a postmenopausal woman under age 65 with risk factors
- you are a man age 50-69 with risk factors
For more information about geriatric care or bone density screenings with Dr. Brent Michael, please give us a call. We can help protect your health and quality of life at every stage of life!