While essential for our health, we often don’t think of bone strength as something we have to manage into our senior years – likely because we cannot see changes in our bones as we can with our skin or hair. While maintaining bone strength can be difficult for many senior citizens, it is vital to do so.
33% of women and 20% of men over 50 experience osteoporotic fractures at some point, but this typically can be avoided. Even the elderly can participate in keeping the bones strong by following some simple steps:
- Regular Exercise: Osteoporosis is strongly linked to sedentary lifestyles, and adults who don’t move enough have an elevated risk of losing bone mass. Even 20 or 30 minutes of daily exercise can be effective in maintaining bone density and strength, often avoiding the development of osteoporosis. Some examples of senior-friendly activities that can benefit your aging loved one include yoga, swimming, cycling, dancing, and walking.
- Proper Diet: A balanced diet is essential for maintaining bone density and overall health for aging adults. Calcium and vitamin D are vital nutrients that should be included in any older adult’s diet, as they offer significant bone-strengthening properties. Therefore, adults worried about bone health need to integrate specific foods into their diet:
- Dairy products such as milk and yogurt
- Fish varieties such as salmon and tuna
- Leafy green vegetables such as kale and collard greens
Conversely, seniors should avoid foods that can weaken bones. This includes foods high in salt, highly processed, and drinks high in caffeine – which can prevent the body from absorbing calcium, sabotaging the bone-strengthening processes.
- Take Supplements: Many older adults begin to lose their appetite, either naturally or due to difficulty in chewing and swallowing. Still, nutrients are needed for maintaining bone health. Therefore supplements that encourage bone strength can effectively compensate for the lack of calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3. However, individuals should consult with their doctor to ensure that taking these supplements won’t interfere with any current prescription medicine.
- Plenty of Sunlight: Bone health can be significantly influenced by the amount of sunlight you are exposed to. Even just a few days of exposure a week can mean better bone health, as sunlight assists the body in absorbing vitamin D more efficiently. Strive for five to ten minutes of sun exposure at least twice a week to impact overall bone health.
- Get Tested for Bone Density: A bone density scan analyzes an individual’s personal risk of breaking or fracturing a bone – and can diagnose bone-associated health issues like osteopenia and osteoporosis. While a scan won’t improve your bone health, it will allow you to understand your bone density better and will detect any bone-related medical issues so that you can proactively address the problem.
It is also interesting that most of the tips listed above are highly beneficial for many reasons – from elevating one’s mood to lowering blood pressure. Just as they did throughout your life, proper diet and regular exercise continue to protect you well into your golden years – and sunlight, water, and vitamins do their part as well.
Many seniors live relatively isolated lives as they grow older, which does not encourage good life habits. Seniors need to get in touch with friends or family and get back into the swing of life. Seniors may also wish to consider a senior living residence that can keep them engaged, happy, and healthy.
A Banyan Residence is a professional assisted living and memory care center located in Venice, Florida. Call today for a tour of our facility and to learn more.