We can adopt positive habits as we get older to help pave the way for a healthy and happy future.
We can stick to a healthy diet, to name one good habit. We can also refuse to let age slow us down by staying active — for example, by walking the dog, or going for a run every morning. And financially speaking, it pays to make a habit of saving early and often for retirement.
In a lot of ways, being proactive about your bone health is like investing: the sooner you make it part of your routine, the more likely you are to enjoy the full benefits.
Experts recommend that everyone adopt positive lifestyle choices for healthy bones. One big positive step you can make is checking on your bone health on a regular basis. Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy test to assess your risk of a potentially life-altering bone break. Keep reading to learn more.
Good habits for osteoporosis prevention
Osteoporosis is a common disease characterized by loss of bone mass, and deterioration of bone tissue. Bones become weaker and more prone to fractures as their mass depletes. The resulting “fragility fractures” represent the majority of bone breaks in people over the age of 50.
Positive lifestyle choices make a positive contribution to bone health. A lot of it is common sense. Experts recommend adopting these specific healthy habits to reduce your osteoporosis risk:
Proper diet and nutrition. A diet that contributes to osteoporosis prevention includes Vitamin D, calcium and calcium-rich foods that include plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Regular exercise. Osteoporosis Canada recommends taking part in a mix of activities for the sake of healthy bones. It suggests four categories to focus on: strength training, aerobic activity, posture awareness and balance exercises.
Regular screening. This is one of the most important habits you can adopt, and one of the easiest to stick to. Regular screening for fracture risk is a proactive way to safeguard your bone health.
A fracture risk assessment tool for osteoporosis
One example of a simple tool is the FRAX osteoporotic fracture risk assessment test. To take a FRAX test, you’ll respond to a questionnaire that gathers information about your clinical risk factors for an osteoporosis-related fracture. Your FRAX score is a breakdown of your 10-year risk of a fracture, based on factors including age, weight and past history of bone breaks.
If you’re 50 and over, it’s recommended that you to talk to healthcare professionals about your fracture risk and osteoporosis prevention — for example, at your annual checkup. The test only takes a few minutes to complete, so it’s easy to follow that guideline. And there’s no harm in starting the conversation in your forties, especially if you have other health issues.
Assess your risk because osteoporotic fractures aren’t like other bone breaks
Also known as a fragility fracture, an osteoporotic fracture can occur while you’re performing everyday activities — doing chores or lifting a child, for example. Even a sudden cough or sneeze can result in a break. The consequences can include pain, a lower quality of life, reduced mobility and loss of independence. Many people never return to living at home after a serious fracture. Fractures can deliver a financial blow, too: Canadians who face mobility problems can find themselves spending thousands of dollars a year on accessibility upgrades to their homes, and therapies that aren’t covered by their private or provincial health plans.
It’s not difficult to imagine how this can disrupt your plans as you get older — vacations, active hobbies and even chasing after grandchildren could become difficult or impossible.
Why is regular screening so important? Because a fracture can happen even if you don’t notice any signs of osteoporosis as a warning. Monitoring your fracture risk can help you avoid being taken by surprise.
For all of these reasons, assessing your fracture risk is just one of those good habits you should adopt as you get older. Talk with your doctor about osteoporosis prevention and bone health early and often, because planning ahead means planning today.
- van Oostwaard, M. Osteoporosis and the Nature of Fragility Fracture: An Overview. 2018 Jun 16. In: Hertz K, Santy- Tomlinson J, editors. Fragility Fracture Nursing: Holistic Care and Management of the Orthogeriatric Patient [Internet]. Cham (CH): Springer; 2018. Chapter 1. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK543829/doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-76681-2_1
- Alexandra Papaioannou, Suzanne Morin, Angela M. Cheung, Stephanie Atkinson, Jacques P. Brown, Sidney Feldman, David A. Hanley, Anthony Hodsman, Sophie A. Jamal, Stephanie M. Kaiser, Brent Kvern, Kerry Siminoski, William D. Leslie; for the Scientific Advisory Council of Osteoporosis Canada. 2010 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of
- Sharratt, A. (Nov. 18, 2015). Hidden health-care costs can be a shock for retirees. The Globe and Mail. Available at: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/retirement/retire-health/hidden-health-care-costs-can-be-a-shock- for-retirees/article27324248/