Safety tips for those living with osteoporosis
22nd December 2022
For those living with osteoporosis, there can be an increased risk of injury due to weakened bones, therefore making your home safe and ensuring your safety when you are out is of paramount concern. Fortunately, there are a lot of things that people can do to help themselves when living with osteoporosis, from improving their balance to creating a safe living environment. Read on to discover some helpful tips and learn more about osteoporosis.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to weaken, leading them to become fragile. As a result of this fragility, they are more likely to break due to a fall or even due to the mild stresses of everyday life. Osteoporosis develops when bone mineral density and bone mass decrease, as well as when the structure of bones change.
Often people don’t realise that they have Osteoporosis until they break a bone, which makes it particularly dangerous. Woodside Clinic, which provides osteopathy, physiotherapy, and other types of therapy, explain: “In the UK, one in two women and one in five men over the age of 50 will fracture a bone, mainly due to poor bone health. But osteoporosis is often a silent condition, giving no pain or other symptoms to alert you to the fact until the worst happens, and a bone breaks.”
While osteoporosis affects men and women of all ages, there is an increased risk as you get older. Women are more at risk of developing osteoporosis because of hormone changes that occur during menopause which directly impact bone density. Oestrogen is essential for healthy bones so if these levels fall, bone density can decrease. Testosterone also keeps bones healthy so as this hormone decreases with age, men can become more susceptible to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis safety tips
Staying active is important for those with osteoporosis for a number of reasons. Not only does getting regular exercise improve bone density but keeping fit can also increase muscle mass which helps prevent falls. Falls can lead to broken bones so implementing regular exercise into your routine is important, especially as people lose 1% of muscle mass per year after the age of 50.
Staying active can be as simple as taking a walk each day, perhaps going for a swim or cycling, or there is a number of seated exercises that can also help. The Royal Osteoporosis Society shares this advice for those with limited mobility and osteoporosis:
“Weight-bearing exercise will need to be approached differently for wheelchair users. If your body allows, taking weight throughout the skeleton and standing throughout the day is very beneficial for the bones in your legs. If that’s not available to you, using light dumbbells in your arms is also helpful. The bones that are strengthened will be the ones supported by the muscle groups you exercise.”
Improve your balance
Because of the increased danger of falls for someone with osteoporosis, improving your balance is a key safety tactic to employ. Better balance can equate to fewer falls and the good news is that there is a number of ways that people can look to become steadier on their feet.
Balance exercises like standing on one leg and raising and lowering your heels can work but these should only be done in a safe environment without the risk of falling. Another exercise can be to practise moving from a sitting or standing position without the use of your hands. Again, this should be done in a controlled environment, preferably with the assistance of another person.
Lunges are an exercise that can improve balance and another popular option is yoga. Yoga teacher and practitioner, Mollie McClelland Morris, who conducts online classes for people to join, shares this insight into the connection between yoga and balance:
“One of the benefits of practising yoga is improved balance, both within the practice and for daily life. Many yoga poses, by nature of the position will challenge your balance, and help to strengthen the muscles that contribute to stability.”
READ ALSO: Top tips for improving your balance
Remove tripping hazards
One of the most important safety tips for those with osteoporosis is to create a safe living environment that reduces the risk of trips and falls. As a result, it’s important that you keep the house neat and tidy, particularly by removing any potential tripping hazards.
The NHS includes this as part of their key advice for living with osteoporosis: “Making some simple changes at home can help reduce the risk of breaking a bone in a fall. Check your home for hazards you may trip over, such as trailing wires. Make sure rugs and carpets are secure and keep rubber mats by the sink and in the bath to prevent slipping.”
Have a look around each room of the house as well as the hallways and see what can be done to reduce the risk of falling. Putting items back in their place after use – such as cleaning equipment and children’s toys – is a great place to start. Ensuring that wires are tucked away neatly and that rugs are not slippery or likely to curl up at the ends is also advisable.
If you have steps throughout your home, consider introducing handrails or even ramps to help reduce the risk of falling over and to protect your fragile bones.
Consider a stairlift
Another way of improving safety around the home, especially if you struggle with limited mobility, is to install a stairlift. These mobility aids can help make the home far more accessible, taking any potential danger away from climbing the stairs and giving you the confidence to stay in the home you love.
When a person’s mobility starts to deteriorate, accessing all parts of the home can become difficult and even lead to accidents. Having a stairlift installed can give peace of mind to those with osteoporosis and anyone with mobility-related concerns.
Adjust your diet
Living with osteoporosis involves certain changes to your diet. By adjusting what you eat and drink you can give your bones and body the nutrients and vitamins it needs while also avoiding things that can be a detriment.
For example, calcium is essential for strong, healthy bones so those with osteoporosis should certainly be making sure they are getting plenty of calcium in their diet. Milk is a good place to start but there are other calcium-rich foods like spinach.
Leonie, from the nutrition and recipe advice website Eat Wright, has these suggestions: “Although spinach contains quite a lot of calcium, the real toppers are kale, purslane, and watercress. Kale contains even more calcium than a glass of milk: namely 160 mg per 100 grams. How to increase your kale intake? Make a smoothie with raw kale in addition to the well-known kale mash or crisps. Or stir-fry kale briefly with some mushrooms and red pepper.”
It isn’t all about calcium, however, as those with osteoporosis can also benefit from increased Vitamin D, a protein-rich diet, reduced salt and also less caffeine – caffeine and soft drink consumption can reduce your body’s calcium levels. It’s also advised to quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake.
As the NHS describes: “Treating osteoporosis involves treating and preventing fractures and using medicines to strengthen bones.” As a result, an essential part of safely living with osteoporosis is to receive your treatment and listen to your doctor.
There are a number of medicines prescribed for treating osteoporosis, such as bisphosphonates which slow the rate at which a bone is broken down, helping to maintain bone density and reduce the risk of broken bones. Apart from taking your prescribed medicines, those with osteoporosis can also benefit from treatment from an osteopath.
An osteopath is someone who aims to restore normal function and stability of the joints and help the body heal, they use their hands and special techniques to help those suffering from a number of conditions, including osteoporosis.
For example, Kennington Osteopaths describe what an osteopath can offer: “If you’ve already had a fall or a fracture and have been injured our physiotherapists and osteopaths are brilliant at rehabilitation and pain relief. You don’t have to live in pain, and you don’t have to live with dysfunction. We all also offer treatment packages that offer a really cost-effective way of helping you to look after yourself.”
How to live with osteoporosis
- Stay active
- Improve your balance
- Remove tripping hazards
- Consider a stairlift
- Adjust your diet
- Receive treatment
Hopefully, the tips in this article for living safely with osteoporosis have been helpful. By combining an active lifestyle with a safe home while also looking to improve your balance and diet, you can not only reduce the risks of falls but strengthen your bones in the process.
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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.