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6 Steps to Better Bone Health for Older Adults

By Greg Bridges, RN, MA, 8:00 am on

Although bone can’t be rebuilt, seniors shouldn’t view bone fractures as an unavoidable part of getting older. Several lifestyle and nutrition changes can slow the deterioration of bones and lower the possibility of suffering a bone fracture later in life. And because it’s never too late to start preserving bone health, Oklahoma Home Care Assistance wanted to provide six simple steps to help you or a loved one get there!

Step 1: Get a blood and bone density test. Your doctor can use both these tests to determine how much calcium and Vitamin D are in the bloodstream and evaluate the health of your bones. If necessary, prescription medications can be prescribed and exercises can be recommended to help strengthen bones and surrounding muscles.

Step 2: Add calcium rich foods to your diet. Dairy products have calcium, but it can be found in other foods too. Canned salmon, cooked broccoli, spinach and other leafy greens, as well as orange juice fortified with calcium offer other ways for seniors to get more calcium from the foods they eat.

Step 3: Don’t forget about Vitamin D. The body needs vitamin D in order to absorb calcium. Therefore, in addition to foods rich in calcium, older adults should strive to also attain plenty of vitamin D to promote bone density and keep bones strong and healthy. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, and foods such as canned tuna, cooked egg yolks, liver and fortified dairy products are rich in vitamin D as well.

Step 4: Add a supplement for extra insurance. Seniors who have a hard time getting enough calcium and Vitamin D through diet may also want to add a supplement, so long as their doctor has signed off the a supplement is a safe option. Most calcium supplements include Vitamin D. Calcium carbonate should be taken with food, but calcium citrate can be taken anytime.

Step 5: Try weight-bearing exercise. Walking or a gentle jog offer the safest ways for seniors to enjoy weight-bearing exercise. Participating in these activities for 20-30 minutes at least 3 days a week can help keep bones strong. For seniors who struggle with mobility, it is best to first consult with a doctor and to go on walks with the company of a friend, family member or professional home caregiver who can ensure safety during the activity.

Step 6: Find ways to improve balance. Yoga, Pilates and Tai Chi all help improve balance and increase abdominal strength which helps decrease the risk of breaking a bone due to a fall. These types of exercises also help keep the spine flexible to avoid fractures of the spine, one of the most common types of fractures among the aging population.

By taking the above steps to improve bone health, you or an aging loved one can dramatically reduce the risk for falls while promoting independence for longer. To learn more about senior living and health and wellness, reach out to Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma at 405-285-4191 and speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable Care Managers.