Our bodies go through many changes as we age. Some of these changes increase our chances of developing certain diseases. While many people are aware of their personal risk factors for conditions like diabetes or heart disease, and take preventative steps to maintain their health, there are other diseases that we should be working harder to prevent – like osteoporosis.
The slumped shoulders and curved posture of osteoporosis are often thought of as a natural part of aging. However, osteoporosis is a serious, sometimes debilitating disease that can be prevented. Understanding your individual risks is the first step for osteoporosis prevention.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that affects the quality and density of the bones. The word “osteoporosis” translates to “porous bone” and is identified by bones that are softer and more fragile, developing a more porous appearance as loss of bone mass occurs.
For most of us, bone density peaks somewhere around the age of 30. After that there’s a slow decline in bone mass and density. For some, this loss is severe enough that it impacts structure and stability, leading to an increased risk of accidents, fractures, and postural issues.
Osteoporosis Risk Factors
While the loss of bone density to some degree is natural as we age, osteoporosis is not. Fortunately, medicine has come a long way with early diagnosis and the discovery of medications that prevent, stall or even reverse the progression of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and can put them at a greater risk of injury as they age. It’s important to understand and identify your own risk factors to prevent osteoporosis from interfering with your life.
Here are five of the top osteoporosis risk factors:
- Age – The most significant risk factor for osteoporosis is age. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, a woman’s risk of experiencing an osteoporosis related hip fracture over the age of 50 is equal to her risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancer combined. Men of the same age are more likely to break a bone due to osteoporosis than they are to get prostate cancer.
- Gender – Women are significantly more likely to suffer from osteoporosis. In fact, about 80% of known cases occur in women. The risk rises once a woman reaches menopause and the protective effects of estrogen for bone health are reduced.
- Smoking – People who smoke are shown to have a lower bone density in general compared to non-smokers.
- Sedentary Lifestyle – Regular exercise, including weight bearing exercises, is important for preventing osteoporosis. Individuals who live a sedentary lifestyle lack the muscular support and bone density of those who commit to a regular exercise routine.
- Family History – Research shows that individuals with a family history of osteoporosis are more likely to suffer from it, especially if a parent had it.
Protecting You and Your Loved Ones From Osteoporosis
If you want to reduce the risk of osteoporosis for either yourself or a loved one, understanding the risks and making simple lifestyle adjustments are the first steps of osteoporosis prevention. At Lexington Square, our senior living communities are designed to encourage and support healthy lifestyle choices that slow or prevent the progression of osteoporosis. Contact Lexington Square to discover our amazing senior living communities today.