What’s Happening – Bone Loss
Bone mass continues to decline with age but at a slower rate than during the early menopausal years. The overall rate of bone loss for men and women is about the same. Since men start with higher bone densities, they are at lower risk for breaking a bone.
Bone loss is a phenomenon that occurs in all races with age. Generally both men and women lose bone as they grow older, but overall women lose more than men because of the rapid loss in early meonpause. Women lose approximately 15 to 30% of their total bone mass between maturity and the seventh decade. Men lose only about half this amount. More trabecular bone that is predominantly in the spine and end of long bone is lost than cortical bone.
As a result, breaking bones is a major concern. In this decade, the risk of having a wrist and spine fracture markedly increases. Falling and sticking out your arm to catch yourself puts all the energy of the impact into your wrist. If you have low bone density, the force is greater than your bone strength and breaks.
Spine fractures are different. The majority of spine fractures occur without any symptoms, so they are “silent.” Height loss may be the only manifestation.
Bone Health Tips for Your 60s
Women who are age 65 and older, who have not had a bone density scan (DXA), now is the time. In addition to scanning your hip and low back (lumbar spine) to measure your bone density, an additional scan of your entire spine should be included. This scan called a Vertebral Fracture Assessment looks for fractures of the spine that may have occurred silently.
Your height should be measured once a year. If you have 1 inch or more of height loss between annual measurements, a further evaluation with a spine x-ray or Vertebral Fracture Assessment is indicated.
Bone healthy measures for your 60s include:
- Recommended calcium intake is 1200 milligrams a day for women and 1000 milligrams a day for men.
- 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 continue at 600 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.
- Include a source of protein at every meal.
- Pay attention to your salt intake and keep it under 1500 milligrams a day.
- Add back strengthening exercises to increase back extensor muscle strength that may decrease risk of spine fractures.
- Get professional instruction in posture and body mechanics for not only your exercise routine but also your household, work, and leisure activities, if you are diagnosed with osteoporosis or have already had a spine fracture.
- Modify common exercise programs, such as yoga and Pilates, if you are diagnosed with osteoporosis to decrease loads on your spine.
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.