As we grow older, our bodies become weaker. In particular, our muscles and bones become less effective in holding everything upright. That leads to various orthopedic problems that can affect our abilities to move around. As such providers of home health care in California offer some advice in dealing with orthopedic issues in seniors.
What Happens To Bones And Muscles As You Age?
Your body reaches its peak bone and muscle growth by around age 30. Beyond that period, bone growth starts to decline. Once you hit the age of 40, your bones actually start to lose some of their mass. Bone loss happens due to your body not being able to make bone tissues fast enough to replace the oneness absorbed by your body.
Your muscles also peak at around the same age as your bones. Beyond the age of 40, muscle force starts to decline significantly. By your senior years (65 years oil onwards), your muscles have lost 25% of their peak pulling force. There are various reasons why muscles weaken, such as weakening and loss of muscle fibers. A lack of activities that help strengthen these fibers can worsen the situation.
Other Musculoskeletal Changes
As your bones and muscles weaken, it causes various physical changes around your body. Such changes are the ones that often make it harder for you to do your usual daily routine and other activities.
One of the things that you will likely notice when you hit your senior years is that you actually get shorter. That isn’t just due to your bones losing mass. The cartilage discs that separate and cushion the bones of your vertebrae also shrink as they lose fluids. This change causes your lower trunk to shrink. Your foot arches also start to sage due to weaker bones, contributing to a loss of height.
Your posture also starts to change significantly at this point. In particular, your spine starts to curve more due to the bones shrinking in size. A hunched back can lead to various issues, including:
- Breathing problems
- Balance issues
- Difficulty doing certain activities
Under normal circumstances, these issues can still be manageable. However, bad posture habits during your younger years can aggravate the conditions.
The Most Common Orthopedic Problems That Seniors Face
The above changes are normal parts of aging. But they leave you susceptible to various orthopedic problems. These bigger issues are the ones that can have a more significant effect on the quality of life during your senior years.
Arthritis, or the inflammation of joints, is a common medical condition that affects older people. Osteoarthritis is a specific type that can cause a lot of concern, mainly because it is the most prevalent type.
The condition arises due to the gradual wear and tear your joints encounter from constant use. It can affect any joint but is most common on highly mobile ones like your hips, knees, hands, and spine. Because these are the joints used for most physical activities, osteoarthritis can significantly affect your mobility.
Some of the most common symptoms you will encounter include the following.
- Deep, aching pain
- The joint feels stiff when you try to move it
- Your joint feels tender to the touch
- Pain when walking
- Limited range of motion
- Bone spurs, hard lumps of extra bone you can feel underneath the skin
Many of these symptoms are manageable and can be remedied, such as lessening the pain. But the damage done to the joint is irreparable. Thus, you will need to use these interventions regularly to offset the growing symptoms.
Fractures And Dislocations
Due to your bones becoming weaker in your senior years, they become more prone to fractures. Even a slight fall can end up breaking your bones. What makes this even worse is that the slower rate of bone replacement will slow recovery. There is also the risk of potentially debilitating you for the rest of your life.
Another common orthopedic problem that happen during falls and other accidents is joint dislocation. When this occurs, the joint moves out of its original position. This condition commonly affects the shoulders, hips, knees, elbows, and fingers. Symptoms of a dislocated joint include a visible deformation and swelling of the affected area and immediate pain.
Treatment will involve returning the joint back to its correct position. Depending on the severity of the condition, it might require surgery. The joint is then immobilized for at least four weeks to optimize the healing process.
As mentioned earlier, bone mass loss is a normal part of aging. When the rate at which it happens is much faster than bone creation, a condition called osteoporosis occurs. It results in weaker and more brittle bones that increase the risks of fractures significantly.
What makes osteoporosis particularly concerning is that it develops gradually over years. It also shows no symptoms during the early stages. Often, you only get diagnosed with it after suffering a fracture. The condition can also cause your posture to stoop significantly due to broken vertebrae.
Helping Seniors Deal With Orthopedic Problems
As they say, prevention is always better than a cure. Proper bone care during your younger years will result in a higher peak bone density. This helps protect you from various bone diseases and fractures. Meanwhile, staying fit and active helps build your muscles and make them stronger.
But even at an advanced age, there are many things seniors can do to at least lessen the effects of these orthopedic issues. The idea here is to help your older loved ones make these steps part of their routines.
Maintaining The Right Weight
Any excess weight can add a lot of load to your already weaker bones. For instance, a 10-pound excess in your normal weight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis by 36%. Hence, the first step in helping seniors protect themselves from this is by getting them to lose weight.
Regular exercise is the most effective way to do this. There are a variety of exercise programs specifically designed for seniors. These are low impact and will not put a lot of strain on their bodies. Additionally, you can encourage them to do more physical activities like walking and doing chores.
Proper diet also helps in maintaining their weight. Choose foods that have fewer fats and carbohydrates. You should also give them foods rich in minerals like calcium and proteins to help them build bones and muscles. Amavi can help you get in touch with a nutritionist to plan their meals.
Protecting Them From Falls
Falls are arguably the biggest risks that people with orthopedic issues have. And the injuries these lead to can have a significant consequence on their well-being. Hence, make your home fall-proof for them.
To start, ensure that all the passageways are free of any clutter. You can also install guide rails along the walls that they can hold on to. Additionally, make it a habit to wipe the floor dry to avoid slips. It would also help to give them comfortable shoes and slippers so they can move around better.
Providing The Best Home Health Care In California To Help You
In some cases, you might need assistance in dealing with orthopedic problems your older loved ones face. Amavi will provide you with all the support your loved one will need, including therapy sessions that help them manage the issues. Sign up with us today and get the best home health care in California and help them get back on track.