Seniors on Chicago’s North and Near North Sides area living with osteoporosis are a fall risk. When seniors fall it can be frightening, but it can be especially scary for elderly women with osteoporosis. This condition causes bones to become brittle, weak and easily breakable. Falls for seniors with osteoporosis can lead to a hospital stay, and eventually, a need for discharge services provided by a homecare company.
Is Osteoporosis Common?
The National Osteoporosis Foundation states that over 10 million American seniors have osteoporosis and over 34 million have a lower bone mass. 24% of people over the age of 50 who are suffering from a hip fracture will die within the year following the fracture. The National Osteoporosis Foundation also estimated that the cost of osteoporosis-related fractures will be around $25 billion by 2025.
Unfortunately not all falls are preventable. When a senior with this condition falls, not only can a hip break but so a can wrist or an arm. Trying to break a fall is an automatic response, but multiple breaks can occur for those seniors living with osteoporosis. This condition causes bones to become so fragile that bones may break without even falling. Standing up from a chair, sneezing, and lightly bumping into furniture can all be the cause of a broken bone in an osteoporosis patient.
Risk After 50
More women have osteoporosis than men. Women start going through menopause in their 50s, which causes a loss of estrogen and ultimately a loss of bone. Women’s bones tend to me thinner and smaller, so the effects of menopause increase the likelihood of osteoporosis.
Activities such as yoga and weight-bearing exercise are beneficial before one starts developing osteoporosis. If a senior already has osteoporosis, consult with a doctor to see what exercise regimen would be best for the individual.
Prevention and Care
One of the first ways to prevent osteoporosis is maintaining a calcium-rich diet and incorporating vitamin D. It is also beneficial to add fruits and vegetables into meals, because the nutrients in those foods are good for bone health. It is very important to limit smoking and alcohol consumption as those create an increased risk of having osteoporosis. Finally, not exercising regularly can aid in the progression of this condition.
For those who are currently living with osteoporosis or know someone who is, there are homecare resources and tips for how to prevent falls inside and outside of the house.
- Research homecare agencies in the area to find a caregiver to assist with activities of daily living.
- Wear clothes that fit properly. Avoid long skirts and dresses a senior could trip over.
- Do not wear slippery socks or flip flops. Low heeled or shoes with rubber soles can provide more grip and stability.
- Put away loose rugs or any other tripping hazards in the home.
- Install grabs bars in the shower and next to the toilet. Also consider a bath mat inside the tub to prevent slipping, and insert a shower bench inside the tub as well.
- Have bed rails installed to assist elderly people in and out of their beds.
- Install hand rails on both sides of the stairway to provide more support going up and down the stairs.
Protecting Seniors with Osteoporosis
Any senior living alone should consider purchasing a personal emergency response system. Seniors with osteoporosis can become injured from a fall, so the system calls for help once the button is pushed. The individual can also carry a cell phone or small cordless phone in their pocket, which would provide another way for them to call for help.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation explains some medications can actually cause a senior to fall. Some examples of medications include allergy medications, blood pressure medicine and sleeping pills. Medical conditions, like low blood pressure, can also cause a senior to fall.
People with osteoporosis can still live an active and healthy lifestyle, while decreasing their chances of falling at home. One form of exercise that benefits seniors living with this condition is Tai Chi. It consists of stretching and bending of the spine, while helping improve a person’s balance. Muscle strengthening and weight-bearing activities are also beneficial for improving balance, because it will help seniors determine heights of stairs and curbs accurately. Medical professionals suggest people with osteoporosis get their sight and hearing checked, as both of those senses affect a senior’s balance.