Osteoporosis: Not Just a Woman’s Disease
Most of us think of osteoporosis as an older woman’s disease. We often hear of it being linked to falls and fractures among elderly females. While it is true that it is the cause of one-third of the broken bones older women suffer, it is also the reason behind one in every five bone fractures that men experience. For older men, osteoporosis-related fractures can be deadly. Hip fracture complications and mortality are three times higher for men than women.
What Puts Men at Risk for Osteoporosis?
If you are an older man or the adult child of one, it is important to know and recognize the risk factors that contribute to osteoporosis. They include:
- High alcohol consumption
- Low body mass index (BMI)
- Family history
Some medications also contribute to bone loss. Common ones include proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec and Nexium, cortisone, prednisone and heparin. You can find a more complete list at the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Test Your Risk for Osteoporosis
The International Osteoporosis Foundation developed a gender-specific assessment for men to take to quickly evaluate their personal risk. The One Minute Osteoporosis Risk Test is made up of 19-questions that can be completed online. It looks at factors known to contribute to osteoporosis including thyroid disease, medication usage, lifestyle and more.
Another way to determine if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, the precursor to it, is with a bone mineral density test. Your primary care physician can order it if they think you or your senior loved one are at risk. The simple, non-invasive x-ray procedure is typically covered by Medicare.
5 Tips to Help Older Men Prevent Osteoporosis
While not all of the risk factors for osteoporosis can be avoided, there are some steps men can take to reduce their risk. They are:
- Stop Smoking: Research shows that smokers have a 29% greater risk for suffering a fragility fracture and a 68% higher risk for a hip fracture.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption: Heavy use of alcohol has been linked to high rates of bone loss in older men. Drinking more than two units of alcohol daily can significantly increase your odds of developing osteoporosis.
- Eat a Balanced Diet: Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and protein can keep you at a healthy body weight. Having a low body mass index could put you at greater risk for fractures.
- Vitamin D and Calcium: Especially for Seattle seniors, have a conversation with your doctor to get their advice on taking a vitamin D and/or calcium supplement. Both of are important for keeping bones healthy. This is
- Stay Active: Getting thirty minutes of exercise most days of the week and performing modified strength training two or three days a week can help prevent osteoporosis. And staying active also includes moving throughout the day. Studies show that sedentary seniors – those who sit for more than nine hours a day – are 50% more likely to experience a hip fracture than those who sit for less than six hours a day.
We hope this information helps you and the older men in your life adopt a lifestyle that promotes healthy bones!