Aging Bone/Joint Health

Did you know... that about one in three people over age 65 who live in the community will fall at least once this year? Read on to learn strategies to reduce your risk of falls and promote your bone health.

Falls & accidents

As people age, the risk of falling increases. Some risk factors for falls include:
  • Balance problems
  • Medications that cause dizziness
  • Decreased muscle and bone strength
  • Inadequate nutrition (e.g., not consuming enough vitamin D or calcium)
 
But there are many strategies you can use to make your environment safer and thus reduce the risk of having an accident.
 
One of the best ways to prevent falls is to stay active. Physical activity can improve bone, joint and muscle strength, flexibility and balance. All of these factors can help prevent falls.

Inside the home

Strategies to prevent falls include:
  • Remove clutter from your home, particularly trip hazards on the floor
  • Remove scatter rugs
  • Consider a cordless phone so you don’t have to hurry to get it
  • For people with mobility limits, install rails and bars in the bathroom. Also, use a rubber mat in the tub to reduce the chance of slipping.
  • Ensure your home is well lit
  • Use nightlights
  • In the kitchen, store commonly-used items in an easy-to-reach place
  • If you use floor wax, use the non-slip type
  • Ask for help with tasks that you don’t think you can manage safely on your own

 
 

Outside the home

Consider some additional helpful advice for safety outside the home:
  • Keep your front porch cleared of snow, ice and leaves
  • Watch your step: be on the lookout for uneven pavement, obstacles, high curbs, etc.
  • Ask the Pharmacist at Walmart about medication safety and whether any of your medications can cause drowsiness
  • Choose well-fitted shoes with firm soles for outdoor activities
  • If you use a cane or another type of walking aid, ensure that it is fitted properly to your height
  • Have your vision checked regularly

 
 

Promoting joint health

Regular exercise offers these benefits:
  • Helps lubricate joint cartilage, reducing pain & swelling
  • Helps minimize stress
  • Improves your mood
  • Improves balance, reducing the risk of falls
  • Strengthens muscles & tendons to relieve joint stress
  • Helps maintain a healthy weight, relieving joint strain and lowering the risk of osteoarthritis.
  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves energy levels
  • Helps bones stay strong
  • Promotes relaxation and sleep
 
Always talk with your doctor before starting any new exercise program to determine what the best approach will be for your situation.

 
 

Managing joint pain

Range of motion exercises are particularly helpful for joint pain. Visit the Arthritis Society of Canada to learn more.
 
You may also want to try other strategies:
  • Over-the-counter products like ASA, ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • For more severe pain, your doctor may prescribe a pain medication. Ask the Pharmacist at Walmart about what might be right for you.
  • Pain reliever gels or creams
  • Many non-medicinal treatments are available:
    • Heat and cold (heat for muscle pain only; ice for an inflamed joint)
    • Massage
    • Acupuncture
    • Distraction
    • Meditation/relaxation
    • Getting adequate rest

 
 

Living with osteoporosis

Osteoporosis involves low bone mass and density. It is treated using prescription medications, nutrition and lifestyle changes.
 
Some tips for living with osteoporosis:
  • Avoid things that hurt your bones: smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeine
  • Stick to the medication regimen outlined by your doctor, even if you are feeling OK
  • Get 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Bone- and muscle-strengthening activities are also recommended
  • Avoid high-impact exercise like jogging, which can increase fracture risk
  • Be careful with daily activities to avoid possible falls

 
 

Vitamin D supplements

Vitamin D may provide health benefits for seniors. It plays a key role in skeletal and bone health and it may also help fight infection, maintain good blood pressure and regulate insulin production.
 
Low vitamin D levels are linked to decreased muscle strength and increased rate of falls. Aging bodies do not produce enough vitamin D.
 
The Osteoporosis Society recommends adults over age 50 get at least 800-1,000 units of vitamin D as a supplement and that doses up to 2,000 units a day are safe.
 
Have your doctor check if your vitamin D levels are normal, and whether a supplement would help.

 
 

Calcium supplements

For adults age 50 years and older, Health Canada recommends 1,200 mg of elemental calcium daily. This includes calcium from foods, as well as supplements. Ideal calcium absorption occurs in smaller doses (e.g., 500 mg per dose). For a breakdown of the amount of calcium in various foods, please visit: http://www.osteoporosis.ca/index.php/ci_id/5535/la_id/1.htm
 
The Pharmacist at Walmart can recommend many different vitamin D and calcium supplement options based on your needs and medical conditions. Just ask.

 
 

Important information

The Pharmacist at Walmart is knowledgeable about seniors’ issues and can help you with advice and product selection for pain relief, nutritional supplements and many other areas of concern. Just ask!

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances. If you have questions about your symptoms, ask the Pharmacist at Walmart for more information, and/or contact your doctor.

Legal
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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