What’s Your Risk of Developing Osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis affects millions of people in the UK. So what is it and how can you maintain good bone health in older age?


Osteoporosis affects millions of people in the UK. So what is it and how can you maintain good bone health in older age?

Looking after our bones as we age is something we all need to think about, especially when you consider that over 3 million people in the UK over the age of 50 are living with osteoporosis. As it’s Osteoporosis Awareness Day this month, we’re looking at how it affects people’s health and some of things you can do to reduce the risk of developing this debilitating condition.

What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis weakens the structure of your bones, making them more porous and fragile. If someone with the condition has an accident or fall, they are far more likely to suffer breakages than a person with healthy bone mass.  As there are no major symptoms, most people don’t even know they have osteoporosis until they have a mishap and find they’ve suffered a fracture.

There are a number of risk factors. The ones you don’t have control over, include:

  • Your family history – if other members of your family have a history of fractures, your risk may be higher
  • Your ethnicity – Asian and Caucasian people have more chance of developing osteoporosis than people of Afro-Caribbean descent
  • Your age – bone density naturally decreases as you age
  • Your sex – your risk is higher if you’re a female, particularly when oestrogen levels drop after the menopause. 1 in 3 women, compared to 1 in 5 men have the condition.
  • Other health problems – conditions like thyroid disease, Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis can affect your bone health

Taking care of your bones

However, there are some lifestyle tips to help keep your bones as healthy as possible. These include:

  • Not smoking and drinking to excess – research has shown that both smoking and drinking too much alcohol can lead to bone tissue loss, so if you can cut down or quit, all the better.
  • Improving your diet – it goes without saying that a healthy balanced diet is good for your overall health but eating foods rich in Vitamin D and calcium are especially good for helping boost your bones. Taking a Vitamin D supplement might be necessary for some people.
  • Getting more exercise – any weight-bearing exercises are great for keeping your bones in good shape. Walking is probably the most accessible and isn’t too hard on the joints either.
  • Being aware of medication side effects – obviously, there are medications that you need to take for certain health conditions but some, including steroids and treatments that affect hormone levels, can reduce bone density. Even if you need to take them, it’s always helpful to be aware that they can have an effect on your bone health so that you can manage it appropriately.

Coping with osteoporosis

Obviously, having osteoporosis doesn’t mean someone will break their wrist or hip every time they fall over or knock themselves. But being aware that you have an elevated chance of developing osteoporosis or knowing that you already have the condition, at least means you can take steps to manage the risks.

Broken bones in older age can cause disability and lead to other serious health complications which can sometimes prove fatal, so it’s important to look after your bones and see your doctor if you think you may have a problem. The earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the easier it is to prevent fractures and stay healthy.

If you want to find out more, the International Osteoporosis Foundation and Royal Osteoporosis Society have plenty of useful information.

And if you need more help to live independently, we can help. At Bluebird Care Clapham and Streatham, our Care Assistants provide private homecare to people in the South London community. Whatever support you need, we’ll create the perfect care package for you – from occasional visits or help with the shopping to 24 hour live-in care. Just get in touch for a chat to see how we can make life easier for you.