Every part of a person’s body gets more worn-out as they age, and it’s no different when it comes to the musculoskeletal system (bones, muscles and joints). Caregivers need to watch out for several common bone and muscular issues when they are caring for an elderly care receiver.
One of the most common bone issues of the elderly is osteoporosis. This is a reduction of bone density that causes overall bone weakness and tendency to break.
Mild symptoms of osteoporosis
Severe symptoms of osteoporosis
Osteoporosis can be prevented by
Osteoporosis can be treated by
Fractures due to falls are more common in elderly. Common sites of fractures include
Fractures can be prevented by making
As a person ages, they start to lose muscle mass and function. This is known as sarcopenia.
Sarcopenia is treated primarily through exercise, especially strength training.
Joints stiffen with age and their moving range is reduced as the amount of lubrication in them reduces. Also, the cushion between the bones of a joint is gradually lost with age, which can cause pain and deformation of the joint.
Exercise can slow down these joint changes and help the joints retain flexibility for longer. Good exercise options for this purpose include strength training, weight-bearing, stretching and tai chi.
The common theme we observe across multiple bone and muscle conditions is that an active lifestyle with regular exercise can slow down the onset of these conditions and also help manage them should they arise. Other factors that help include a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, avoiding smoking and reducing alcohol. Keeping these in mind will help elderly care receivers immensely.
Article reviewed by David Tay, Senior Principal Educator (Nursing and Prehospital Care), HMI Institute.