Bones are living tissues changing constantly with the formation of new bones and
loss of old bones throughout our lives. To remain mobile and independent we need
to keep our bones healthy by protecting them from disease. Bones continue to grow
in strength until the age of about 35 years, when old bones start to be lost at
a faster rate than new bones can be formed to replace them. In some men, and more
frequently women, this bone-loss is very severe. Their bones become weak, fragile
and liable to break easily. This condition is known as osteoporosis. We now know
how to protect the skeleton from this disease and maintain strong bones.
One in four women and one in eight men over 60 years of age suffers a fracture due
to osteoporosis. Bones at the highest risk of fracture are the hip, spine and wrist.
Women are at a much higher risk because during and after the menopause they experience
rapid bone-loss following reduction in female hormone oestrogen. Bone-loss at this
stage can be prevented by hormone replacement therapy. Apart from causing pain,
fractures can make independent living difficult and may cause long-term problems
with mobility. We are not certain about the exact number of Indians having osteoporosis.
In view of the general poor nutritional status and faulty lifestyles it is expected
that the number may be very high. There are some simple measures one can take to
prevent fractures whatever the age.
As you grow older, you are more likely to have a fall; so it is important to take
a look at your home to make it as safe as possible. Some simple, practical steps
you could take are the following:
- Be careful about anything that might make you trip or slip.
- Keep objects of everyday use at a reasonable height to avoid reaching or bending.
- Ensure well-lit corridors and staircases regular vision tests will ensure that your
sight is adequate.
- Diet rich with calcium and vitamin D.
Adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D is essential to maintain bone health, particularly
as you grow older. The rich sources of calcium and vitamin D are: milk and milk
products, beans, spinach, nuts and dried fruits. To ensure an assured supply of
vitamin D and calcium, older people can consume calcium tablets available in the
market: 500 mg for men and 1000 mg for women.
- Exercise strengthens muscles around the bones. Regular brisk-walking will help keep
your bones healthy. It also improves your balance and co-ordination and prevents
- Alcohol and tobacco are harmful to bones and must be avoided.
- Excess intake of tea and coffee and cola drinks are also bad for bones, hence should
If you have suffered a fracture or have developed backache, loss of height or a
stoop, you may have fragile bones or osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is treatable. Itis
better to talk to your doctor to be assessed for the condition and advice on suitable
treatment which are available today.