All the parts of our body have their importance and functioning. If one part becomes weak, it creates in the rest of the body too. Our bones are the basis of our walking, sitting, writing, thinking, any physical movement. The structure of bones is also used to protect the delicate organs inside our body. Proper growth of bones is significant for better functioning of the body. But we often take our bones for granted.
With increasing age, pain in the back, knees, and shoulders become a common problem. From birth to the end of life, our bones undergo many changes. The bones store calcium and phosphorus, which are used in the movement of muscles. At the age of 25 to 30, our Bone Mass Density is at its peak. After this, gradually, the density of bones starts decreasing, which means that as people move into their senior years, more mineral is released from the bones than the mineral they absorb.
Factors Affecting Bone Health
Calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health, especially in the elderly. Along with this, there are many factors in everyday life which affect the health of bones in senior citizens. We will check these factors now.
Exercise and hard physical work have an excellent effect on bones. People with an active life have less risk of osteoporosis. But the physical activity reduces in the senor ears; therefore, the elderly face severe bone issues.
Use of alcohol and tobacco
Eating tobacco and consuming alcohol also weakens bones and increases the risk of osteoporosis. The chemicals present in these weaken the tissue of the bones, and the bones start to thaw.
Gender, weight and age
Although age is the most crucial factor in affecting bone health, gender and weight of the elderly also play a key role. It is believed that elderly women have less bone density than men. That is why women are at greater risk of bone-related problems. Similarly, elders who in the extreme obesity grades, and very thin elderly, are also at risk of bone diseases.
If someone in your family has had a bone-related disease, there’s a chance that the elderly too will have it. That is why it is essential to take better care of bones based on your family history.
If the elderly consume too much tea and coffee regularly, then there’s a higher risk of weak bones and teeth.
Changes in hormones are also dangerous for bone health in the elderly. Excess of thyroid hormone also damages bone density. After the menopause, the amount of estrogen in women decreases rapidly, because of which, the bones weaken. Reduced amounts of testosterone hormone in men also cause osteoporosis.
Measures for Better Bone Health in Elders
As humans grow old, it becomes essential to give extra care to the bones. Are you also wondering to know how to keep your bones strong as you age? If yes, scroll down to understand how you can keep your bones healthy and safe in your senior years.
Exercising regularly keeps your body and bones healthy. Elders can do basic cardio and yoga for better bone health. Include regular exercise in your lifestyle and get strong bones.
Weight is also a significant cause of bone-related problems. Whether it is overweight or too low, it can be dangerous for your bones. Fracture and knee pains are more common in overweight people. That is why regular workouts can be helpful to control weight and keep the body healthy in elders. Along with this, the controlled weight helps prevent more impact on bones and overall well-being of senior citizens.
Proper intake of calcium and vitamin D
Be sure to include calcium and vitamin D sources in elders’ diet. Deficiency of these elements leads to early loss of bone tissue and increases the risk of bone fractures in seniors.
According to the RDA Advisory, people over the age of 50 should include 1200 mg of calcium in their diet. Consuming more milk and milk products, almonds, broccoli, soy products, and others which are rich sources of calcium, are imperative for elders. For Vitamin D, they should also add eggs, fish, mushrooms, etc. in their everyday meal.
Limit the consumption of Caffeine
Tea and coffee contain caffeine which is responsible for decreasing bone density. More tea coffee makes teeth and other bones lose their essential minerals, due to which the elderly become weak. Elders who consume caffeine in excessive amounts are an increased risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Therefore senior citizens are suggested to limit the consumption of caffeine and avoid beverages like tea and coffee.
Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco
Use of alcohol and cigarettes is considered dangerous for better bone health. The tobacco, nicotine, and alcohol weaken the density of bones and damage healthy tissues. For better bone health, elders should stay away from alcohol and tobacco consumption. It doesn't only maintain the strength of bones and avoid the risk of osteoporosis but will also help them prevent other illnesses.
Signs Of Weak Bones
How would you take precautionary measures until you don’t know if your bones are weakening or not? Well! Here we are going to tell you about the '9' changes that occur as you age. These changes in the body indicate that the bones are weakening and need care.
Cracked or Thin Nails
If your nails are frequently breaking or have become thinner, then this can be a symptom of weak bones. It happens due to the lack of calcium in the body.
Frequently Muscular or Joint Pain
Frequent pain in the joints of the body is also a sign of weak bones. Elders with chronic joint or muscular pain are very likely to develop osteoporosis. To avoid this, the elderly should exercise regularly.
Inflammation of the gums is another alarming symptom. It is a clear sign of calcium deficiency in the body. Brushing teeth twice a day is anyway a good practice, but as you grow older, it becomes even essential to ensure better bone health.
Some elders become shorter as they age. This decreasing height is a clear sign of unhealthy bones. It happens when bone mass starts decreasing. In this condition, muscles near the spinal cord also begin to weaken.
If your grip has become looser than before or if you’re facing issues in holding things for too long, it indicates that you’re losing your bone density, which can lead you to severe bone issues.
Fracture is a common accidental injury, but some elders experience sudden fracture even after mild injuries or sprain. It is another alarming sign for bone health and can also lead to osteoporosis.
Muscle Aches and Cramps
Muscle pain and cramps can occur with increasing age. But if this happens very often, then it can be a symptom of vitamin D deficiency in the body. Lack of Vitamin D causes the bones to become weak.
Excessive Weight Loss
If elders are suddenly becoming thin, it can also be a symptom of weak bones. Excess weight loss is not a healthy sign, and elders with this condition are advised to seek immediate medical help.
Strong bones are essential for elders to maintain better health and prevent chronic illnesses.
Healthy Food For Strong Bones
The tendency to avoid sunlight, calcium deficiency, and poor lifestyle, cause many problems in elders. With their unhealthy eating habits and lack of nutrients, various bone issues develop in the elders with age. In such a situation, the risk of 'osteoporosis', which makes bones hollow, increases. Low intake of a healthy diet, distance from exercise and sun exposure, living alone, getting insufficient/absence of a caregiver, is also causing calcium deficiency among the senior citizens, which gradually leads to osteoporosis.
But do you know that Calcium is not the only nutrient required to make bones strong? Yes, calcium is the main ingredient to make your bones strong, but at the same time, elders need many more minerals for better health and strengthen bones. Here we have listed down the essential nutrients and foods that will keep your bones and muscles strong.
We all know that calcium is most important for bones. Calcium is one such element which is available the highest amount in the human body. Our teeth, bones and nails are made of calcium only. Most of the calcium is stored in bones. However, as elders grow, their bone density and bone mass start decreasing, and it becomes vital for them to eat calcium-rich foods.
Sources of Calcium: For calcium, elders should consume milk and other milk-based products. Along with this, green leafy vegetables help seniors to get both calcium and iron. Fish is also a rich source of calcium. Whole grains, bananas, sardines, salmon, almonds, bread, tofu and cheese are good sources of calcium and should be included in the everyday diet of the elderly.
Vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins for our body, especially in senior years. But the sad part is that most elderly in India are struggling with vitamin D deficiency. Lack of vitamin D weakens their bones. Vitamin D can be directly consumed from sun rays. Along with this, elders can get rid of Vitamin D deficiency by including things rich in vitamin D in their food. Not just Vitamin D, elders should anyway consume a nutritious diet; it helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle in their senior years.
Sources of Vitamin D:
The origins of Vitamin D are fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, Selmon, egg whites, soy milk, dairy products like milk, yoghurt, mushrooms, grains, cheeses, orange juice, coca.
Yes, maybe you think that protein works in the production of muscles, but it is also essential for bones in senior citizens. Protein makes bones strong as well as increases bone mass. With the right amount of protein, the elderly can get rid of acute joint pain and other bone-related issues.
Sources of protein:
If elders do not consume enough protein, then it directly affects not just their bones but overall health. Protein is available in both plant and animal based food. Major sources of proteint are chicken, fish, nuts, whole grains, seeds, legumes and potatoes.
To maintain better bone health, you must ensure that you consume sufficient amounts of potassium. While keeping bones healthy, potassium also regulates fluid balance and corrects the nerve signals in elders.
Sources of Potassium:
Banana is a good source of potassium. Elders should also include root foods in their diet. Among them, including sweet potato is a good option. Apart from this, milk and other milk-based products are also rich sources of potassium and help elders maintain better bone health.
Magnesium is also an essential mineral for strengthening bones. Magnesium makes bones and joints strong and promotes better health in the elderly.
Sources of Magnesium:
For magnesium elderly should include green leafy vegetables in their everyday diet. Spinach is a good source of magnesium. Apart from this, elders should also increase the consumption of tomatoes, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
Apart from these, consuming immunity boosting foods and drinks is also important, as less exposure to diseases is directly proportional to healthy and strong bones. Having said that, it’s imperative to note that combating with diseases or preventing any of those disease causing microorganisms is directly related to how strong your immune system functions.
The Bottom Line
We hope that by now you know how to keep your bones healthy and strong! Strong bones require elders to have an active and mobilised life. With strong bones, elders can live an independent life. If you're not around to take care of your elders and their bone health, you can also hire a professional caregiver for them.
The professional caregivers, like us, at Emoha, realise the importance of bone health in the elderly. Also, we know the best approaches to promote better bone health in the elderly. Not only this, but we ensure to take care of each of their needs, starting from health till completion of their daily activities. Connect with us soon at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1800-123-445555, for a happy living of Elders.