May Is Osteoporosis Awareness, Prevention Month

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The New Jersey Interagency Council on Osteoporosis (ICO), joined by the Department of Health and Senior Services, is shining a light on fall prevention during May, Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month.

Through its theme “Stand by Your Mother….Don’t Let Her Fall,” the council is focusing its efforts this year on encouraging sons and daughters to take notice of their mothers’ health and fitness and to take steps to ensure their mothers’ bone health.

“For people with osteoporosis, falling poses a serious threat to their health, mobility, independence and longevity,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard. “Fortunately, like osteoporosis itself, falls are preventable.”

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In New Jersey, nearly 375,000 women over age 50 are at risk for osteoporosis and broken bones and a recent department report, Preventing Injury in New Jersey: Priorities for Action, shows that women are 67% more likely to have a fall injury than men.

“Each year women suffer more osteoporosis-related fractures than stokes, heart attacks and breast cancer combined. In fact, half of all women will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime,” said ICO President Angele Thompson. “So the time to take action to keep our moms bone-strong and healthy is now.”

Known as “the silent disease,” osteoporosis is a serious condition in which bones become thin, brittle and easily broken. Osteoporosis is largely preventable for most people through healthy behaviors including a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D, weight bearing exercise, a healthy lifestyle without smoking or excessive alcohol, and bone density testing and medications when appropriate.

Sons and daughters can help mom by ensuring her home is free of clutter and other tripping hazards and that mom is taking all the right steps to maintain strong bones. The council recommends that women have their healthcare provider review all their medications, as some drugs result in dizziness. Vision should be checked regularly, because impaired vision can contribute to falling. One important step could be to join a Project Healthy Bones or A Matter of Balance class.

Project Healthy Bones is a 24-week, peer-led low impact exercise and education program that helps participants decrease bone loss, increase bone density and improve strength, balance and flexibility – all important in preventing falls. The program is available in all New Jersey counties, and more than 3,000 older adults have participated in Project Healthy Bones annually since its inception in 1997.

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