Senior's Health

Is Bone Loss Normal?

“We reach our highest levels of muscle mass by the age of 30 and after 30, we start having a slow decline,” Beth Berter RN, BSN, Director of Operation in the Group Health Musculoskeletal Department, explains.

Is it Possible to Detect Bone Loss?

As bone density declines, bones become stiffer, weaker and more brittle, making them prone to fractures and breaks. When the bone loses too much density, it can lead to osteoporosis, which is known as a “silent” disease, because it usually occurs gradually with few symptoms.

“You can’t necessarily feel your bone density declining,” Beth points out.

Osteoporosis is usually discovered when you experience a fracture or break. If you’re healthy otherwise, bone density tests are recommended every two years after age 65. Bone density tests are used to:

  • Diagnose bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Predict your risk of future bone fractures
  • See how well osteoporosis medicine is working

Ways to Stave off Bone Loss

While you may not be able to reverse bone loss, you can offset the decrease in muscle mass, Beth says. She suggests:

  • Eating foods higher in Calcium and Vitamin D
  • Incorporating weight bearing exercises into your workout regimen

In some cases, your doctor may suggest medication therapy, like bisphosphonates, to prevent and treat osteoporosis, which can help reduce the risk of both spinal and hip fractures.

“As much as patients with osteoporosis are calcium-deficient, there’s a significant, growing number of patients who have a vitamin D deficiency – and that would be up to the physician, how they treat that,” Beth points out.

Exercise is Key – No Matter What

A variety of musculoskeletal issues, like bone loss and osteoporosis, go hand-in-hand with aging; however, regardless of what disease you may have, Beth says exercising is important. “This is especially important if you have some type of functionality change – strengthen muscles such as your legs and core muscles to support the areas impacted by changes that are either normal with aging or with a disease process that you may have,” she explains.

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