What’s Happening – Increase Risk of Breaking Bones
In this decade osteoporosis becomes a bigger issue for men. Men are about 10 years behind women in risk of fracture unless there are underlying risk factors.
Spine fractures are more common. Raising a window or lifting a box of books, may increase the load on an individual spine segment causing a fracture. However, only an estimated 20 to 30% of spine fractures are associated with pain and come to clinical attention. Once you have had one fracture you at high risk for another, so it’s important to know if you have had a silent fracture.
Falls dramatically increase in the 70s and into later years. A fall from standing height can cause devastating consequences, particularly fractures of the wrist, shoulder, and hip if you have low bone density.
A loss of muscle mass with aging leads to reduced muscle strength and an increased risk of falling. The strength of the quadriceps muscles, which are in the front of your thigh, is a risk factor for falls and fractures. Difficulty rising from a chair or difficulty going up stairs may be an indicator of decreased leg strength.
Low vitamin D is also associated with muscle strength and falls. Vitamin D supplementation of about 800 IU a day decreases the risk of falls. Quadriceps strength is higher with sufficient amounts of vitamin D.
Bone Health Tips for Your 70s
Men, it is time for your evaluation of bone mass. All men age 70 and over should talk with their doctor about scheduling a bone density DXA scan along with a Vertebral Fracture Assessment that looks for spine fractures.
Women, if you are having a first or follow-up DXA scan, ask about including the scan of your upper and lower spine to look for silent spine fractures. The additional test done on the DXA scanner is called a Vertebral Fracture Assessment.
Calcium intake recommendations increase for men. Vitamin D increases to 800 IU a day. The amount of vitamin D needed to maintain a sufficient level may be higher. Based on your risks, your doctor may determine your individual amount by ordering a vitamin D blood level.
Bone healthy measures for your 70s include:
- Recommended calcium intake is increases to 1200 milligrams a day for men. Women recommended intake is also 1200 milligrams.
- Try to cover the recommended amount from food sources.
- If you fall short, do a menu makeover or use a dietary supplement.
2. Vitamin D
- Recommendations increase to 800 IU per day with no more than 4000 IU per day.
- Diet may not supply sufficient vitamin D; a supplement to diet may be needed.
- Eat a lean protein source at every meal.
- Stay away from the saltshaker and processed foods high in salt.
- Focus on balance and agility activities.
- Include back strengthening exercises to increase back extensor muscle strength that may decrease risk of spine fractures.
Strengthen leg muscles to decrease the risk of falls.
Do whole-body progressive resistive training 3 times a week.
If you have had a fracture, these general measures are usually not enough to decrease the risk of more. Discuss with your doctor, your treatment options that include FDA-approved osteoporosis medicines that are effective in lowering your risk of fracture. Consult a physical therapist or other exercise professional for instruction and modification of your exercise and day-to-day activities.