What Is Osteoporosis and How Does It Affect Seniors?

Have you heard of osteoporosis? It’s a skeletal disorder that increases the risk of fractures. While osteoporosis can affect people of all ages, however, it’s most common among seniors. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 5% of all women and 25% of all men aged 65 and over suffer from osteoporosis of the neck or back — and that doesn’t account for osteoporosis in other parts of the body. What is osteoporosis exactly, and how does it affects?

The Basics of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a chronic bone disease that’s characterized by the loss of bone tissue. There are 206 bones in the human body. Collectively, they create the skeletal system. Bones can lose the tissue from which they are comprised. If this lost tissue isn’t replaced, osteoporosis can occur. Osteoporosis is simply a disease that involves the gradual loss of bone tissue, thereby, lowering the density of a senior’s bones.

Bones are comprised of tissue. Our bodies produce this tissue automatically by using collagen, calcium, phosphorus and other compounds. When combined, these compounds create a hardened, mineral-like matter. Over time, levels of bone tissue can decrease. Our bodies typically replace this lost bone tissue. With osteoporosis, though, this replacement doesn’t occur. People who suffer from osteoporosis lose bone tissue at a faster rate than that of which their bodies are able to replace it.

Causes of Osteoporosis

Calcium deficiency has been shown to increase the risk of osteoporosis. Calcium, of course, is found in bone tissue. Our bodies can’t make calcium, so we much obtain this essential nutrient from food sources. People who don’t consume enough calcium in their diet are more likely to develop osteoporosis. As their body’s calcium levels drop, they won’t have a sufficient amount of calcium to build new bone tissue.

Lack of physical activity has also been shown to increase the risk of osteoporosis. Regular exercise promotes strong bones. When senior exercises, his or her body will respond by producing new bone tissue. Exercise, particularly resistance or weight-bearing exercises, stimulates the production of new bone tissue.

Many seniors, unfortunately, don’t spend enough time exercising. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only about one in three seniors are physically active. With little or no exercise, their bodies produce an insufficient amount of new bone tissue, which can lead to osteoporosis.

How Osteoporosis Affects Seniors

Osteoporosis can affect seniors in several ways. Seniors who suffer from this chronic bone disease often struggle to maintain their balance. The skeletal system, of course, is designed to stabilize the human body. Bones are harder and stronger than other types of tissue, so they allow us to maintain our balance. But they can only provide stabilization if they contain a sufficient amount of bone tissue

Seniors who’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis don’t have a sufficient amount of bone tissue. They have low levels of bone tissue that manifests in the form of weaker bones and a weaker skeletal system.

The biggest concern for seniors with osteoporosis is an increased risk of fracture. A report by the International Osteoporosis Foundation found that one in three senior women and one in five senior men who suffer from osteoporosis will develop a fracture during their lifetime.

Fractures can in men and women of all ages, regardless of whether they suffer from osteoporosis. Osteoporosis simply increases the risk of fracture by promoting weaker bones. Bones get their strength from bone tissue. When this bone tissue is depleted without being replaced, bones become weaker and more susceptible to fracture.

How Seniors Can Lower Their Risk of Osteoporosis

Seniors can lower their risk of osteoporosis by staying physically active. Regular exercise has been shown to stimulate the production of new bone tissue. It exposes a senior’s bones to resistance, which causes his or her body to produce new bone tissue.

Some exercises are more effective at combating osteoporosis than others. As previously mentioned, resistance and weight-bearing exercises offer the greatest benefit. Resistance and weight-bearing exercises apply force or resistance to a senior’s bone. This triggers a response by the senior’s body to produce new bone tissue.

Making smart dieting choices can lower a senior’s risk of osteoporosis. Certain nutrients are found within bone tissue, one of which being calcium. By increasing their intake of calcium, seniors can lower their risk of osteoporosis.

Calcium is found in the following foods:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Soybeans
  • Nuts
  • Tofu

Along with calcium, seniors should consider increasing their intake of potassium. While potassium isn’t found in bone tissue, it affects the strength of bones nonetheless. Potassium is responsible for calcium absorption. It affects how much calcium a senior’s body is able to absorb. If a senior consumes little or no potassium, his or her body may not absorb a sufficient amount of calcium to promote strong bones.

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