The Cottages Blog

Caring for a Senior with Arthritis or Osteoporosis

Posted by Leslie Carter on Jun 30, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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The term arthritis is a general term that is used to describe arthritis and other rheumatic diseases which affect the joints and their surrounding tissue. Symptoms usually involve pain and swelling around the affected joints. Osteoporosis is a disease that weakens bones to the point where they may break very easily. These two diseases affect a person’s bones, and there are several ways that you can help your loved one who is affected by one or both diseases.

 

Have Them Get a Bone Density Test and Calcium and Vitamin D Tests

A bone density test is also called a DXA scan or a densitometry. It is a special type of x-ray where doctors measure the amount of calcium and other minerals in bone segments. These tests are used as a way to predict a patient’s risk of fracture and to determine if the patient’s bones are as dense and as strong as they should be to avoid injuries and breaks.

Calcium and vitamin D tests are usually done together. A 24-hour urine analysis is done, and the patient’s calcium and vitamin D levels are analyzed. Doctors check to make sure that your loved one has the right amounts of calcium and vitamin D in their system. Check with your loved one’s doctor before requesting any of these tests.

Help Them Eat Healthy and Exercise

Eating a healthy diet and maintaining an exercise routine are great ways to make sure that you age well and stay as healthy as possible in your golden years. Seniors who have arthritis or osteoporosis should be encouraged to eat diets that contain dairy and calcium-rich foods, like cheeses, leafy greens, and whole grains. To help your loved one exercise regularly, learn five tips for developing an exercise routine for Mom. Before you have your loved one change their eating or exercise habits, make sure you talk to their doctor.

Encourage Them to Quit Smoking and Cut Down on Drinking

If your loved one smokes or drinks, they should know that both of those habits affect bones negatively. Smoking raises your risk for loss of bone mass, and alcohol weakens your bones. Read tips on how you can help your loved one stop smoking. Drinking alcohol causes your bones to lose calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that are necessary for bone strength. It is recommended that seniors drink no more than one drink a day if they are a woman and no more than two drinks a day if they are a man.

Know Your Loved One's Risk Factors

Age, gender, and race can all play a part in a person’s risk for diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis. The probability of bone thinning and joint inflammation increases with age, so people who are over age 50 are more likely to suffer from these conditions. Also, people who are female and/or Asian or African-American are more likely to suffer from loss of bone mass than other groups of people. 90 percent of women who break a bone have existing problems with their joints.

 

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Topics: Advice for Caregivers

Leslie Carter

Written by: Leslie Carter

Leslie developed an affinity for spending time with seniors through her mother, who loved to include her children in volunteering at local nursing homes. She truly has found her passion and has devoted her energies to working in the senior housing industry.