Vol. 10 Issue 7
Not a Normal Consequence of Aging
Osteoporosis is not a normal consequence of aging, and a comprehensive national effort is needed to educate younger generations that prevention of this disabling disease is a process that should begin in childhood, not at retirement. This is the conclusion of a recently released report on bone health from the National Osteoporosis Foundation (www.nof.org), and it is a goal worthy of your action and support.
"America's Bone Health: The State of Osteoporosis and Low Bone Mass in Our Nation"available online at http://www.nof.org/advocacy/prevalence/index.htmreflects the message of one of the centerpiece articles in our Annual Geriatric Focus Issue. In this article, author Marilyn Motszko, NP, explains that the bone mass attained early in life is perhaps the most important determinant of lifelong skeletal health. "Lifestyle habits conducive to maintaining good bone health throughout life are developed in childhood," she writes. "NPs have an obligation to help their patients establish good health habits that promote the development and maintenance of healthy bones."
Based on the statistics gathered by the National Osteoporosis Foundation, bone health in the United States is in a sorry state. Approximately 21.8 million women in this country have low bone mass today, and the number is expected to rise to 30.4 million by 2020. The problem is not specific to gender: approximately 11.8 million men in the United States have low bone mass, and that number will rise to 17.1 million by 2020.
Obtaining adequate calcium and vitamin D intake is the best preventive measure against osteoporosis, the ultimate outcome of low bone mass. The foundation estimates that 10.1 million U.S. men and women have osteoporosis today, and that 13.9 million will be diagnosed by 2020. Motszko explains that osteoporosis at any age, and especially in old age, leads to fractures, pain and decreased mobility. In many cases, osteoporosis leads to nursing home placement or even death for elderly hip fracture patients.
In other peer-reviewed geriatric coverage this month, Karen Lou Kennedy, NP, provides practical tips for managing constipation in the elderly and Deanne Gray Miceli, NP, presents original research about the social, emotional and psychological impact of falls on the elderly.
This month's continuing education article explains how to conduct a neurological examination, taking readers through the process step by step. Debra Johnson, NP, provides a thorough discussion of metabolic complications of HIV infection, while Wanda B. Liddell, NP, presents intriguing findings about whether caregiver gender makes a difference in sexual assault treatment. In other coverage, Linda Thomson, NP, discusses the use of hypnosis to assist in resolving habit disorders in children.
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Michelle Perron Pronsati