Most of us only consider the health of our skeletons when it’s too late; a person can break a bone in a fraction of a second, especially if they have a bone-degenerative disease like osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is called the silent disease, because weakened bones cannot be felt. Break a bone, though, and the entire world is turned upside-down.
In the U.S., half of all women over age 50 suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture. These have serious implications: a hip fracture, for example, can lead to a premature loss of independence, quality of life decrease, and prevailing fear of another fall.
Here are five ways to protect yourself:
1. Turn on Your Nightlight
Vision is a tool your body uses to balance, so you’re more susceptible to stumbles in the dark. Even if you don’t normally wake up in the middle of the night, putting night-lights by your bed, in the hall, and in the bathroom will help you navigate your house better just in case nature calls or you forget something before bed.
2. Use Handrails
If you don’t have them already, install handrails in your home and use them. In public spaces, always use handrails on steps and in the bathroom. Make it a habit and let your body memorize it, like buckling your seatbelt every time you get into the car.
3. Remove Hazards
Remove things on the ground that could cause falls. A hit on a low coffee table or a trip over a loose rug is an annoyance for many, but can be devastating for people living with osteoporosis. Placing a non-slip pad under your favorite rugs and swapping low coffee tables for higher-standing ones will help. Does Rover still sleep beside you? It may be time for him to get his own doggie bed so he’s not under-foot if you have to get up at night.
4. Maintain your Strength
If your musculoskeletal system is strong, you’ll reduce your risk of falling, too. People with osteoporosis need to be careful and only do exercises they know are safe for them. Here are some examples of exercises you can do at home from American Bone Health:
5. Get a DXA and Talk with your Doctor about Treatment Options
Ultimately, the person responsible for your health is you. Be your best advocate by talking with your doctor about all treatment options, and choose the best one for you. Be sure to take a list of medications you’re currently taking to make sure any drug options interact optimally with new pharmaceuticals. If you’re interested in natural treatment options, like osteogenic loading, be sure to let your doctor know.
Lindsey Hayes (Pittsburgh West) is a Managing Owner of OsteoStrong where they specialize in strengthening the skeletal system for better posture and balance, increased physical performance, and eliminated or reduced joint and back pain.