Osteoporosis is the most common bone disease in humans and represents a serious health problem, especially for people over the age of 70. The primary characteristic of this chronic disease is a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD), caused by the body’s metabolic changes later in life.
Fractures in patients who are diagnosed with osteoporosis lead to a potential loss of independence of those affected by this condition. Healthcare professionals like you have the opportunity to make a positive impact in patients’ lives through prevention and better treatment of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis in an Aging Population will provide you with an overview of specific aspects of diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis in aging patients, including:
- The definition of osteoporosis, how to identify risk factors, and the populations most at risk
- The importance of screening for osteoporosis and how to relate data from reliable screening tools (e.g., the significance of BMD testing in measuring the density of the bone vs. an x-ray to reveal a fracture)
- Describing the diagnostic criteria for osteoporosis (e.g., the need for a formal diagnosis of osteoporosis vs. a screening result of an increased risk for fractures)
- The most frequently used modalities of treatment, including medications to treat osteoporosis and the need for increased resistance training to either prevent or even partially reverse the bone weakening effects of osteoporosis
- Educating patients regarding prevention strategies by increasing patient awareness to their risk factors, educating patients about the lifestyle changes they should make, and ensuring patients are safe in their environment
Implications for Healthcare Professionals
There are several recommended interventions to preserve bone strength for the general population. These include an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D, a lifelong participation in regular weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercise, stopping tobacco use, identification and treatment of alcoholism, and treatment of risk factors for falling.
Motivating aging patients and changing deep-rooted behavior is a difficult challenge. However, osteoporosis is preventable with early screening and can be diagnosed and treated before fractures occur. Healthcare professionals should be familiar with the most common treatments so they can help each patient implement and adhere to a care plan tailored to their needs.
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