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Bone Health Is An Important Issue For Seniors

It's called the "silent disease" because it commonly occurs without symptoms. Osteoporosis (porous bone) is the loss of bone mass and the structural deterioration of bone tissue. Similar to termites eating away a piece of wood, this disease can be unseen while it eats away at bone density. Over time it silently leaves the skeleton weaker and bones more brittle. In fact, the first symptom some people experience is a fracture, often from a seemingly minor fall, bump or strain.

Osteoporosis is a serious health concern for seniors. The disease affects more than 54 million Americans, with females over 50 years of age being the most susceptible. Women can lose up to 20% of their bone mass in the 5-7 years following menopause. Age and other risk factors can then compound the problem.

When the bones of seniors become thin and brittle, fractures and breaks are often the result. They are most common in the spine, hip and wrist.


Risk Factors

  • Osteoporosis is estimated to affect 200 million women worldwide.
  • 1 in 3 women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures.
  • 1 in 5 men aged over 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures.
  • The risk of these fractures increase with age for both women and men.
  • Evidence suggests that many women who suffer with a fracture are not appropriately diagnosed and treated for probable osteoporosis.
  • 44 million Americans seniors have osteoporosis and low bone mass - 55% of people aged 50 and older.
  • 10% loss of bone mass in the vertebrae can double the risk of vertebral fractures. A 10% loss of bone mass in the hip can result in a 2.5 times greater risk of hip fracture.
  • Female.
  • Old age.
  • Postmenopause.
  • Family history of osteoporosis.
  • Thin and/or small body frame.
  • Diet low in calcium.
  • Low testosterone levels in men.
  • Amenorrhea the abnormal absence of menstrual periods.
  • Inactive lifestyle.
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Use of certain medications, such as anticonvulsants and corticosteroids.
  • Alcohol abuse.
  • Anorexia nervosa or bulimia.
(Sources: International Osteoporosis Foundation, National Osteoporosis Foundation)