When your loved one or friend has osteoporosis, you can help. Family and friends can help in many ways. By becoming more knowledgeable about osteoporosis if you are a family member, you may actually be helping yourself. Because heredity is one of the risk factors of the disease, accompanying your family member may give you important information about avoiding fragility fractures in your future.
Take an Active Role
- If possible, come to the initial appointment. This will help you better understand osteoporosis, the different treatment options and how you can help.
- Help your family member or friends by providing accountability regarding medication, exercise and diet.
- Help your family member or friends avoid falls.
Fall Prevention Indoors
- Keep walkways clear of cords, clutter, etc.
- Place items within easy reach.
- For items out of reach, use a long-handled grabber.
- For items in high places, use a step stool with hand rails.
- Use non-skid rubber backing on area rugs, bathroom rugs and shower mats.
- Place hand rails or grab bars in the shower and by the toilet.
- Place and use hand rails on both sides of all stairways.
- On hardwood or uncarpeted floors, avoid using slippery wax.
- Wear only shoes with non-skid soles.
- Use only shower/tub seats with non-skid legs.
- At night, turn on the lights. Place a night light between your bed and the light switch.
- Keep your phone with you at all times in case you need help.
Fall Prevention Outdoors
- Use handrails when going up and down stairs or escalators.
- Walk on grass if walkways look slippery.
- Wear boots in the winter and low-heeled shoes.
- Shoes with rubber soles provide better traction.
- Use an assistive device like a walker or cane, as needed.
- Keep your hands free by wearing a shoulder bag, fanny pak or backpack.
- Keep walkways, porches and driveways free of leaves, ice, trash and clutter.
- In public places, watch out for polished marble or tile floors that may be slippery.
For more tips, visit the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Smoking and Osteoporosis
The longer you smoke and the more cigarettes you consume, the greater your risk of fracture in old age. Smokers who fracture may take longer to heal than nonsmokers and may experience more complications during the healing process.
- Multiple study suggests that exposure to secondhand smoke during youth and early adulthood may increase the risk of developing low bone mass.
- Significant bone loss has been found in older women and men who smoke.
- Compared with nonsmokers, women who smoke often produce less estrogen and tend to experience menopause earlier, which may lead to increased bone loss.
- Quitting smoking appears to reduce the risk of low bone mass and fractures. However, it may take several years to reduce a former smoker’s risk.
Dietary Calcium Promotes Bone Health
Dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese, are all good choices for adding calcium to your diet, but other foods are rich in calcium as well.
- Fortified juices
- Cereals and oatmeal
- Salmon and sardines with bones
- Beans and legumes
- Certain nuts, such as almonds
- Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, broccoli and bok choy
Dietary Vitamin D Promotes Bone Health
- Fish, such as salmon, tuna and herring
- Milk and yogurt – regardless of whether it’s whole, nonfat, or reduced fat/fortified with vitamin D
A Note on Dental Care
It is imperative that you let your dentist know if you are on any osteoporosis medications. Some medications that prevent bone loss may negatively affect healing after certain dental procedures. You and your dentist will want to discuss options based on your medications.
If you are concerned about your bone health or your doctor refers you, the South Texas Fracture Prevention Clinic will help determine your bone health with excellent care. Call (210) 495-9047 today to get started.
Special thanks to Wake Forest University Fracture Liaison Service for guidance and Authorization to use material.