Ensuring Good Bone Health In The Elderly
Through good nutrition and regular exercise ...
We very often get enquiries about our services from concerned family members, after their loved one has had a fall and injured themselves. Fractured bones are common amongst the elderly, with one in three women and one in five men at risk of osteoporotic fractures ...
This risk increases with age. The most common fractures occur at the hip, spine and wrist; and these injuries can often take months to recover from. Which is, of course, where the services of Extra Help can make a real difference.
Osteoporosis is a condition which affects the bones; causing them to become weak, porous and more likely to fracture. Bones are a living tissue and they continuously change as we age. Bone density reaches its peak by our mid to late 20s and this is the point when they're most dense and at their strongest.
From the age of about 40, bone breaks down quicker than it is replaced, so our bones gradually begin to lose their density. This makes the bone more prone to fracture.
However, it's not all bad news! Several things can be done to help keep your bones healthy, especially in later years ...
Calcium requirements change with age. When we are young, especially during our teenage years, we require high levels of calcium as our bodies are rapidly growing. As we age, our body's ability to absorb calcium decreases, therefore there is an increased need for supplementation. The FSA/WHO (2002) guidelines recommend a 1300mg/day calcium supplement for post-menopausal women and men over 65.
Sunshine is important, as it produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D help your body to absorb calcium. Those two nutrients work together to keep your bones strong! Vitamin D assists with calcium absorption from food, along with maintaining the correct renewal and mineralisation of bone tissue.
However, with the long cold months here in the UK (and our unreliable summers!) it is not always possible for our bodies to make enough Vitamin D from sunshine. So, for those who are elderly, frail or housebound, a supplement of 10 10µg (micrograms)/day of vitamin D is recommended.
As well as supplementation, adequate exercise and good nutrition can also play a role in keeping bones healthy. Foods which are rich in calcium include dairy foods, oily fish (sardines, salmon and pilchards), oranges, green leafy vegetables, brazil nuts and apricots. As well as sunshine, vitamin D can be found in oily fish, eggs, fortified margarines and cereals. It is advisable to eat these foods regularly.
Exercise will also help keep your bones strong. The elderly can include light exercise in their daily routine, although they would be best to get professional advice before embarking on a programme, especially if they have had a previous fall and are still recovering.
However, it is not always possible to prevent fractured bones and falls, especially amongst the elderly. Extra Help specialises in home help; so if you've had a family member who is unable to cope with shopping, cleaning or meal preparation then call us on 0845 618 2904 or click here to ping over and email.
We can also provide transport to GP and outpatient appointments.
Until next time ...
Louise is the Franchise Manager for Extra Help. Louise has a BSc (Hons) in Dietetics from Plymouth University. She has a positive outlook, and is passionate about business, development and creating opportunities.