Living with Osteoporosis: Practical Tips

In the United States alone, approximately 8 million women and 2 million men have osteoporosis—a disease that causes deterioration of bone tissue and can lead to bone fragility as well as an increased risk of fractures. It's considered a "silent disease," because sufferers can remain symptom-free for many years, often until the event of a fracture or major break.

If you suffer from osteoporosis, you know firsthand the toll it can take on both your physical and emotional well-being. Here, practical tips for living a healthier and more fulfilling life with osteoporosis.

Tips for Increasing Bone Strength

Even if you've already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, you can help to increase your bone strength and prevent further bone loss by following these steps.

  • Consume adequate amounts of calcium (approximately 1000 to1500 mg/day, although the exact amount varies with age).
  • Consume adequate amounts of vitamin D (approximately 400 to 800 IU/day under age 50; up to 1,000 IU/day over 50).
  • Don't smoke.
  • Don't drink excessively.
  • Exercise, focusing especially on weight-bearing moves such as walking and jogging.

Tips for Preventing Falls and Fractures

If you have osteoporosis, maintaining bone strength isn't the only thing you have to worry about. Preventing a fracture is also extremely important, and there are many things you can do to reduce your chances of falling.

  • Remove hazards in your house that can increase your risk of falling, such as long wires or throw rugs.
  • Install grab bars in the bathroom and non-skid mats near sinks and in the tub.
  • Carry and lift items with caution, as a spine fracture could result if you're not careful.
  • Wear sturdy shoes, and be especially careful in inclement weather.
  • Use a cane, walker, or other aid to help with balance and mobility.
  • Make sure stairwells in your home are well-lit and have handrails.

Tips for Choosing Comfortable Clothes

Due to a loss of height, a curving of the shoulders and back, and a thickening of the waistline, it can be challenging for those with the disease to find comfortable and fashionable clothes. When shopping, keep these tips from the National Osteoporosis Foundation to keep in mind.

  • Choose clothing that is loose, or only slightly fitted.
  • Look for pants with elasticized waistbands.
  • When shopping for dresses, opt for ones with an empire, dropped, or A-line waist.
  • Have fun with accessories, such as long scarves or shawls, which are great for focusing attention away from the shoulders.
  • Use a backpack, rather than a purse, to distribute weight on your body and to allow for better balance.