The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC indicates that 23% of all Americans aged 50 and older suffer from osteoporosis, a leading cause of long-term health care. While most of these people are women, 4.2% are men.
The weakening bones of osteoporosis dramatically increase a person's odds of having dangerous fractures. As a person gets older, bone density problems cause several health issues, including the need for help with everyday living activities.
Bones Break Down with Age
Bone is living tissue. The problem is as we get older, our bodies start to break down old bone and replace it with new bone tissue. The National Institute on Aging says that at about age 30, our bone mass stops increasing. When we get into our 40s and 50s, more bone gets broken down than is replaced.
The experts weren't surprised and said more must be done to test for and treat the loss of bone density that comes with getting older. While age is the primary cause of bone density loss, some medications, like steroids, can accelerate the loss of bone density. Many asthma medications, for example, contain steroids.
Osteoporosis and its precursor condition -- osteopenia (low bone mass), affects more people than many people think.
It is not just a problem for the 80-year-old individual, but starts to become an issue for many adults in their 50s and 60s
Dr. Saad Chaudhary, a spine surgeon at Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.
Women start losing bone mass earlier, but by age 65 or 70, men and women are losing bone at the same rate. One report showed more than 16 percent of all American seniors -- about 25 percent of women and nearly 6 percent of men -- have full-blown osteoporosis, as evidenced by bone density tests of the spine and hip.
Many more people have osteopenia, where their bone loss is already apparent but hasn't reached the stage of osteoporosis.
Of course, rates of osteoporosis rise with age.
Preventing Bone Loss
Dr. Chaudhary stressed that much of this bone loss could be prevented.
We reach our peak bone mineral density in adolescence and then must work conscientiously to maintain that through activity, a balanced diet, and consultation with health care providers
Dr. Saad Chaudhary
Neglect your bone health in youth, and the consequences to quality of life could be significant, Chaudhary added.
Osteoporosis is the more severe stage and can often result in one or more fractures of the spine and cause pain and disability
Bone mineral density screening is recommended for postmenopausal women, and men aged 50 and above based on their risk factor profiles, or for all women aged 70 and above and men aged 80 and above
Dr. Saad Chaudhary
A bone density test will be ordered to determine if someone has osteoporosis or osteopenia and assess their risk of a future bone fracture. The test, called a DEXA scan, measures a person's bone density. The test compares an individual's bone density to the bones of an average healthy young adult. The test result is called a T-score. This score is a standard deviation — a mathematical term that calculates how much a result varies from the average or mean.
If the T-score is –1 or greater: the bone density is considered normal. A score between –1 and –2.5: the person has low bone density, known as osteopenia. T-scores of –2.5 or less: osteoporosis will be the diagnosis, even if the person has no history of a bone fracture.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that your first bone scans for women at age 65 and men at age 70.
Diet is Important
A person's diet is believed to be essential for bone health, especially the amount of calcium and vitamin D a person is intaking. Calcium and vitamin D work together to help strengthen bones.
The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends that women should get their first bone density test at age 65 and men at age 70. However, many women will have risk factors that make it a good idea to get a baseline scan in their 50s.
Cleveland Clinic lists several risk factors - Bone Density Test - Risk Factors.
Prepared for the Consequences of Aging?
The consequences on your family can be life changing as family caregivers face physical and emotional stress and anxiety. As we get older, we face many challenges, including declining health, mobility problems, and dementia. Are you prepared for these challenges?
Without a plan, we become dependent on others as we need help with daily living activities that we take for granted today. Professional long-term health care is expensive, and those costs are rising rapidly nationwide.
We can stop aging. The problem is real. The solution, for many, is affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. Since your health insurance and Medicare pays only a fraction of these expenses, you need a way to fund the quality care you deserve without draining assets or creating a burden on those you love.
Most people obtain coverage in their 50s - the time many women start scheduling their first bone density test. The insurance will not stop osteoporosis or aging; it will provide you with the guaranteed tax-free benefits to address long-term health care's impact on your family and finances.
About the Author
An LTC News author focusing on long-term care and aging.
Contributor since August 21st, 2017
If you have older parents, you probably have seen the consequences of aging firsthand. Declining health, mobility problems, and dementia are all things that can happen as we grow older. Often, this means we become dependent on others as we need help with daily living activities that we take for granted today.
Long-term health care costs will dramatically change your lifestyle and affect your cash flow. If you become dependent on unpaid and untrained family caregivers, they will face stress, anxiety, and health and financial hardships. You probably don't want to place these burdens on those you love.
The solution for many families is Long-Term Care Insurance. These affordable plans give you guaranteed tax-free benefits to fund your choice of quality care services, including in-home care. Some policies will pay for modifications to your home.
You must, however, get a plan before your health substantially changes. Most people get coverage in their 50s when premiums are lower, their health is better, and the most options are available.
Seek Professional Help Planning for Long-Term Care
Experts recommend seeking the help of a qualified and experienced Long-Term Care Insurance specialist to help you find the right coverage. A specialist will match your age, health, and family history with the right coverage at the right price.
Long-term care is a very specialized area, and few insurance agents and financial advisors have the expertise. Find a specialist who represents the top companies as premiums can vary over 100% between insurance companies. Leading specialists will often have over 500 clients with Long-Term Care Insurance.
A specialist will save you money, and you will have peace of mind knowing they are making the appropriate recommendations - Work With a Specialist | LTC News.
Planning Tools and Resources Available on LTC NEWS
Planning for the future is never easy, but long-term health care planning can be very complicated and comes with many emotions. Getting the right tools and resources will make the process much easier.
One of the goals is to reduce the stress and anxiety usually placed on your family at the time of crisis. LTC NEWS can be beneficial in providing you with important information for you to consider.
LTC NEWS has put in place several resources, including:
The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost of long-term health care services where you live. Plus, each state has vital state-specific information you should know - Cost of Care Calculator - Choose Your State | LTC News
The Ultimate Long-Term Care Guide is an outstanding read to help you get a good overview of the topic area.
Compare the major insurance companies that offer Long-Term Care Insurance products here - Top Insurers for Long-Term Care Insurance | LTC News.
A detailed tax guide that includes available tax incentives can be found by reviewing the Long-Term Care Tax Benefits Guide.
Find all the resources on LTC NEWS - Resources for Long-Term Care Planning | LTC News.
Need Help Now for Mom or Dad?
If your family is already in crisis and you need to find help for mom or dad, LTC NEWS can help. We have put together several comprehensive guides to help you in your process.
Start by reading our four guides -
If your loved one is lucky enough to own a Long-Term Care Insurance policy, be sure they use it. Sometimes families wait, thinking they can save the benefits for a rainy day. Waiting on using available Long-Term Care Insurance benefits is not a wise idea.
Get Assistance in Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim
Many insurance companies have issued Long-Term Care Insurance policies over the years. Filing a claim can sometimes be complicated unless you know what to do or get expert help and assistance.
Don't allow the claim process to stop you from using the benefits available in an LTC policy. Quality care obtained early will help provide a better quality of life and reduce the risk of a deep decline and facility care.
If you need help in starting the process of a Long-Term Care Insurance claim, LTC NEWS can help. LTC NEWS provides free assistance with no obligation to help you or a loved one complete the claims process with a Long-Term Care Insurance policy. We have teamed up with Amada Senior Care, who will do all the work - free with no obligation.
Get help finding quality caregivers or long-term care facilities and get recommendations for a proper care plan, whether a person has a policy. - Filing a Long-Term Care Insurance Claim | LTC News.
Advantages of Reverse Mortgages
Today's reverse mortgages for those aged 62 and older could be an ideal resource to fund a Long-Term Care Insurance policy OR even provide money to pay for care if you, or a loved one, already needs help and assistance. You might be eligible at younger ages as well.
Some people have much of their savings invested in their homes. With today's reverse mortgages, you can find ways to fund care solutions, care itself, and even help with cash flow during your retirement.
Learn more by asking questions to an expert. Mike Banner, LTC NEWS columnist and host of the TV Show "62 Who Knew" will answer your questions regarding caregiving, aging, health, retirement planning, long-term care, and reverse mortgages.
- Just "Ask Mike." - Reverse Mortgages | LTC News.
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