Osteoporosis Care: What Causes Osteoporosis in the Elderly?

In osteoporosis, the bones become weaker, brittle and fragile. While in young adulthood, the bones are at their healthiest and thickest, everyone begins to lose bone mass after the age of about 35.

Older adults can be at higher risk than others of developing osteoporosis, losing bone density quicker than the average person. People who have osteoporosis are at higher risk of sustaining a fracture than others.

What is osteoporosis?

For those with osteoporosis, the bones lose essential minerals faster than they can be replaced. Both calcium and phosphate are necessary for bone formation. However, to maintain enough calcium in the blood, the body reabsorbs the calcium stored in the bones.

In cases where a person’s calcium intake is deficient, or the body fails to absorb sufficient calcium from the diet, the bones can become weaker and more likely to fracture.

Recognising osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is often described as a silent disease because there are rarely any symptoms. Diagnosis usually occurs after someone has had a fall and broken a bone.

Why do older adults get osteoporosis?

Due to the increased reabsorption of bone and the imbalance with the formation of new bone, bones become more fragile and thinner with age. There are certain times when osteoporosis is more likely to occur; for women, this is during menopause.

Hormone changes due to menopause mean that women are generally at a higher risk of osteoporosis than men. Oestrogen levels decline after menopause, meaning bone density can decrease rapidly.

Women who experience early menopause, or have a hysterectomy before the age of 45 are at increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

Women who do not have periods for over six months due to excessive exercise or dieting are also at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis as this can have an impact on oestrogen levels.

For men, it is common in those who have lower levels of testosterone. Testosterone is essential for keeping the bones healthy. Although men continue to produce testosterone throughout their lives, men who have low levels of the hormone have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.


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Types of osteoporosis

There are two types of osteoporosis, primary or secondary. Primary osteoporosis occurs due to ageing and the decline in the hormones needed for healthy bones. Elderly care facilities often run fall prevention clinics because the risk of fractures is much higher in older adults.

Secondary osteoporosis can happen as a result of another disease, or due to medications prescribed for another condition. Coeliac disease is an example of one of the conditions that can cause osteoporosis because it affects the absorption of calcium.

Risk factors for osteoporosis

Various hormone-related conditions can contribute to the development of osteoporosis. If your loved one has an overactive thyroid gland, they may be at higher risk, as are people who have Cushing’s syndrome, a disorder of the adrenal glands. Other factors that can lead to osteoporosis include overactivity of the parathyroid glands and disorders of the pituitary gland.

Your loved one may also be at increased risk of developing osteoporosis if there is a history of the condition in the family. Older adults requiring dementia care may also have a low body mass index (BMI), and this may put them at increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Inactivity over a long period can also increase the risk of osteoporosis. With specialist home care, your loved one will receive encouragement from their carer to be as active as their overall health allows.

Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are also believed to increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Supervision of your relative’s diet and encouragement to eat healthily is an essential part of osteoporosis care.

If your elderly relative needs private care because they have one of these conditions, their carer will be able to ensure that their lifestyle and diet are appropriate and to minimise the risk of falls.

With a personal live-in carer, you can relax knowing your loved one has someone readily available to help them with tasks such as personal hygiene, shopping, or even just companionship.

Call us for expert live-in care advice

There are various causes of osteoporosis in older adults, but with an osteoporosis care plan, your loved one can learn to manage or even prevent the condition.

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