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September 06, 2012

How Older Adults Can Reduce the Risk of Osteoporosis

People with osteoporosis are at greater risk of fractures and broken bones, particularly pressure-bearing bones such as the hip, wrist, and spine. More than 34 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis, which can increase your risk of serious, possibly debilitating, injury if you fall. Taking steps to strengthen your bones and muscles and improve your balance can help decrease your risk of injury from osteoporosis. 

Understanding Osteoporosis

Called the “hidden disease” because it has no obvious symptoms, osteoporosis damage occurs inside the bones where its progress cannot be observed. Meaning “porous bones,” osteoporosis is an apt name for a disease that causes the body’'s bones to weaken and thin. The interior of healthy bone is composed of many small spaces connected by strands of tissue, somewhat like a honeycomb. Throughout life, our bones are constantly creating new tissue to replace old bone. However, new tissue growth slows with age and is eventually outpaced by the destruction of old tissue. As more bone tissue is destroyed, the honeycomb spaces within our bones become increasingly larger. In severe cases of osteoporosis, bones appear to be little more than a thin shell over a nearly hollow core. 

How it Affects Older Adults

In women, the process of osteoporosis speeds up for several years immediately after menopause— likely accounting for the greater number of plus-60 women who suffer from the disease. By age 70, post-menopausal bone loss slows; and men and women share similar bone loss rates. Osteoporosis does not strike everyone equally, and there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. 

Check back tomorrow for tips for building bone strength. In the meantime, you can learn more about your mental health by downloading our free guide about cognitive, mental and emotional health. 

Photo: thebmag


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