How to Help an Elderly Person Deal with Osteoporosis

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Steps to Help an Elderly Person Prevent Falls and Bone Loss

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It is extremely important once a family member has been diagnosed with osteoporosis to help them prevent falls and further deterioration of their bones. Here is some information, I hope you will find helpful.

Does the person really understand their condition?

Make sure they clearly understand what the doctor has told them. Often they do not. Write down the doctor’s directions as simply as possible. Review the instructions daily if needed, until they are getting it correctly. The elderly person may have difficulty understanding explanations and directions because of mental or memory problems.

  • How To Prevent Falls when a elderly person has osteoporosis.
  • How to improve diet when a elderly person has osteoporosis.
  • Life style changes and treatment to help the osteoporosis patient.

Preventing Falls is the #1 Goal

Vision: Make sure they get their vision tested. Bad vision causes falls.

Proper Posture: Observe them getting up out of a chair and walking. You may notice habits that may contribute to a accident in the future.

Demonstrate safe walking techniques: Explain how using the walker to pull themselves up on their feet is dangerous; instead show them how to push themselves up using the the chair arms; how to stand up slowly with their legs a few inches apart to give the body more balance; to wait for a few seconds to walk until they feel steady; to keep their head up and eyes forward; to stand tall not slouch when walking or using the walker; to bend from the hips and knees, not from the waist; when bending over to pick up an object, to not lean over if possible but lower themselves down using your thighs, keeping upright: when they lean over they are more prone to losing their balance and becoming light headed.

Take immediate steps to make their home safer: Install night-lights in each room and the hallways; remove boxes, bags, clutter from around walking areas; don’t wax floors; remove small rugs that may become a fall hazard; remove rugs that are ripped and uneven; remove all electric cords from walking areas; install handrails or grab bars on stairs, steps, bathroom, and shower; install a non-slip rubber bathmat in the shower; and make sure there is adequate lighting in all rooms. If they have a favorite chair that rocks, slips, or has narrow arms, encourage them to replace the chair. The new chair should sit higher, not rock or move, and have firm, wide arm rests. There are also chair seat lifts operated by a spring that can be placed on top of the chair seat. This makes it much easier to get up when arm strength is lacking. There are chairs that have built in, motorized seat lifts as well. The lift is controlled by a simple button control remote. You will find many of these items at a medical supply store.

Walking Aids: Suggest they use a walker instead of a cane for more support. Many elderly people hate to use walkers because it makes them feel they are becoming more feeble. Impress them with the fact, it is much better to use a walker than end up in the hospital. If they won’t use a walker, encourage them to buy a safer cane. There are safer designed canes with secure grip handles and three prongs that allow them to stand up on their own.

Alter Clothes and Shoes: People cling to their old, familiar clothes and worn out shoes. If they use a full length robe or nightgown that is too long, alter the hem, so they don’t trip on it. Make sure their slacks don’t drag the floor either. You must make them understand how important it is to get rid of sloppy, loose house shoes and bedroom slippers; They must discontinue wearing shoes with heels that are unstable; Take them shopping to buy new shoes that are supportive and have soles with traction.

Consider Hip Pads: Encourage them to wear undergarments that are padded over the hip areas. Help them purchase the hip pads from catalogs that specialize in aids for the elderly. You may have to show them how to use them as well. Research has shown they help in the reduction of hip fractures.

Discuss Dietary and Life Style Habits:Smoking and Alcohol: Encourage them to give up smoking and drinking. Drinking is responsible for many falls. Most elderly people develop a decreasing tolerance to alcohol and their balance is affected more quickly.

Increase Calcium Rich Foods: Help them improve their diet with healthier foods including calcium rich foods and Vitamin D. If they will not eat correctly, make them realize how important it is to take 1000 mg of a calcium supplement including 600 mg of Vitamin D if they are under 50; If they are over 50, they should take 1200mg of Calcium with 800mg of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body to absorb Calcium. Vitamin D should be in the range from 600 to 800mg according to the Institute of Medicine.

Protein Requirements: Protein is needed to maintain strong bones but too much is not good either. Too much protein causes more Calcium to be eliminated in the urine. The suggested protein intake for women is 46 grams and 56 for men. I have not seen many elderly patients eating too much protein. Most often elderly patients are low in protein because of appetite loss, poor food selection, and the inability to swallow and chew their food.

Decrease Salt Intake: Sodium increases the rate at which you eliminate Calcium in the urine: The typical American diet is packed with snack foods, canned soups and TV dinners loaded with salt.

Eating problems in elderly patients: Bad teeth, missing teeth,
and plates that hurt their mouth often prevent the elderly patient from
eating their food properly. These problems also prevent proper
digestion and utilization of the nutrients. Most elderly patients are
undernourished in every respect. When they are home, often they don’t
eat because they are depressed, lonely, sick, or incapable of fixing
much. Even though meals for wheels and senior center lunches encourage
appetite, most meals are over cooked as well. Many times the elderly
fail to eat them or only eat the dessert or parts they like. In
Osteoporosis and most ailments of the elderly, nutrition is a main
contributing factor to their condition or disease.

Help them start an exercise program: The majority of the elderly can start a exercise program. The exercise program will depend on the age and physical abilities. Get direction from their physical therapist or doctor. There are exercise sheets for different kinds of situations. Go over the exercises with them. Have them do the exercises with you there, to make sure they perform them correctly. Do the exercises with them. Post a weekly exercise schedule where they can see it. Check weekly to remind them.

If they are in a nursing home, get them involved in the physical activities offered by the home. If there are no activities offered, do exercises with the elderly person yourself when you can.

Medication confusion: After their diagnosis, discuss with them the suggested treatments which could be Fosamax, Actonel, or Boniva; Miacalcin, or Fortical; parathyroid medications such as Forteo; or hormonal therapy; All that information may be completely overwhelming and unclear. They may have difficulty making a decision. If you feel the medication is not appropriate, and the doctor is wrong, try to persuade them to get a second opinion.Disclaimer: This article is not intended to replace the recommendations or suggestions of your medical care provider. When ever in doubt please contact your loved ones care provider and ask them for tips and suggestions.

References:
http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/osteoporosis/default.cfm#Symptoms%20and%20Tests
http://www.nof.org/osteoporosis/faq.htm

http://www.nof.org/prevention/calcium2.htm

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/osteoporosis.html

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