Millions of aging in place Americans aged 65-and-over suffer from the degenerative bone disease known as osteoporosis. Unfortunately for many seniors with osteoporosis, enjoying the daily activities they once did has now become a painful and dangerous undertaking.

If you’re currently caring for an elderly loved one with the disease, ensuring their continued health, wellbeing and independence can be quite challenging. But it is possible when you use these proven ways to care for a senior with osteoporosis.

What is Osteoporosis?

In the average person’s body, living bone tissue is constantly being broken down and replaced. But when someone has osteoporosis, the production of new bone tissue doesn’t keep up with the loss of old tissue. Once that starts to happen, their bones become so brittle and weak that falls, or even minor activities like bending over or coughing, can cause fractures.

Osteoporosis-related fractures occur most commonly in the hip, wrist or spine areas. The disease affects men and women of all races, but white and Asian women who’ve gone through menopause are placed at higher risk for bone loss. There are several age-related causes for osteoporosis including hormonal changes, having a calcium deficiency, Vitamin D deficiency or combination thereof.

Osteoporosis Symptoms

Osteoporosis is hard to diagnose because at first it has no apparent symptoms. But once a patient’s bones get weakened, they usually start exhibiting these signs:

  • Stooped posture
  • Loss of height
  • Bones that break much more easily than expected
  • Back pain caused by collapsed or fractured vertebra

And although there’s no cure for osteoporosis, it can be managed with medications, diet and weight-bearing exercises. If the senior under your care has been diagnosed with osteoporosis, there are also several reliable ways to help ensure they enjoy a better quality of life.

Caring for Someone with Osteoporosis

When caring for someone with osteoporosis, lifestyle choices like body weight, smoking and drinking are important. Smoking and excessive alcohol use will speed up bone loss, while drinking too much alcohol can increase a senior’s fall risk. Weighing too much or too little also increases the risk for broken bones. Encourage your loved one to not smoke, limit their alcohol intake and maintain a healthy body weight.

In addition to lifestyle changes, here are some other ways to assist someone with osteoporosis:

Eat Healthier

Studies have found that the disease’s progression can be slowed down with a healthy diet containing lots of calcium, protein and Vitamin D. As a caregiver, encourage good nutrition by helping with grocery shopping, meal planning and meal preparation. Here are some foods that are rich in the bone-healthy nutrients your senior needs:

  • Calcium – Nuts, cabbage, broccoli, low-fat dairy products, soy products, tofu products and supplements.
  • Vitamin D – Fish, pork chops, eggs, and Vitamin D-fortified yogurt, orange juice and breakfast cereals.
  • Protein – Nuts, eggs, salmon, chicken, tofu and soy products.

Persuading your loved one to take a daily multivitamin that contains these nutrients is a good idea, along with