Fractures can occur in everyone. If you have a serious accident while playing sports or a car crash, the force of an impact has to be severe enough to bend the bone to the point it cannot withstand. When this occurs, the bone can crack or break completely. Normally, in younger people, only an impact of great magnitude could cause a bone to fracture. However, elderly people appear to be more likely to suffer fractures that occurred from the smallest of accidents. Why is this?
Osteoporosis is the condition where the bone becomes weak and brittle. This means it takes a lot less force to cause a breakage.
Most people who have osteoporosis wouldn’t know they have it until they suffer their first fracture. This is why it’s known as the ‘silent’ disease. Elderly people are more likely to suffer from osteoporosis
Bones are constantly renewing and replenishing bone cells. The calcium in our bones is absorbed by our body to help with bodily functions. This means that the calcium it uses it must be replenished.
As we age, the ability to replenish the bone is less than what is absorbed by the body. This is due to the hormonal consequences of ageing, such as the decline of oestrogen during the menopause and testosterone. This reduces our bone mineral density. If it continues, it can lead to osteoporosis.
Elderly people are likely to suffer fractures in the:
Other conditions and diseases can cause osteoporosis, such as coeliac disease with associated calcium malabsorption. When people have such diseases, osteoporosis can occur at any age.
Older people are more likely to fall. The combination of increased likelihood of vision impairment, side effects from medication, reduced reaction times and reduced muscle mass are all considered important factors.
This means that as the chances of osteoporosis increase with age, so do the chances of suffering an accident – making life-changing injury more likely.
According to the National Ageing Research Institute, 30% of older adults fall at least once a year and 70% of people aged over 70 accounted the total acute hospital inpatient costs.
This information is critical as those who have suffered fractures in the past are likely to suffer another fracture, due to the weakening of the bone.
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