If you’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis, you know how they can impact your life. But, as with so many health challenges, most of us tend not to think about bone loss – until it’s too late. How far should you push your friends and family to make the lifestyle changes necessary to prevent bone loss? It can be a tricky situation.
I’m not a nag; really, I’m not. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that I don’t know it all. That maybe I’m not as smart as I thought. And that “my way or the highway” is never the best answer.
Thus I find it difficult indeed to broach the subject of bone health with my girlfriends, most of whom, like me, are heading into osteoporosis prime time: our 60s.
Now let me pause just a moment here, and voice what many of you might be feeling: how can we possibly be looking at age 60? There are a lot of us out here, smack-dab in the middle of the Boomer generation, who’ll reach that milestone in the next several years.
We still think of ourselves as young; well, maybe not young, but certainly not the image of “old” that age 60 inspires. We grew up in the anything-goes ’60s, with its rebellious atmosphere, its drugs, alcohol, protests, and parties. We were young, and strong, and healthy. And in our minds, nothing has changed.
But our bodies tell a different story.
Face it, ladies – we’re getting old, with all that implies. The truth stares us in the face – literally, from the mirror – every morning. Creases and wrinkles, sagging skin, and a body that’s more flab than firm all tell the tale.
But what none of us sees is what’s going on inside. Maybe it’s a few cancer cells in one breast that, in 6 or 8 years, will become a lump that you find one morning in the shower, your heart sinking. But more likely, it’s the inexorable weakening of bones – something all of us experience, to one degree or another.
Your bones have gradually been losing mass since your early 30s; that’s a given, a natural part of the life cycle. What’s harder to predict is just how fast this loss occurs.
For some of us, it’s very gradual, no more a health problem than gray hair or a slower gait. But for others, bone loss can be precipitous, and serious. It can tip from normal to osteopenia to osteoporosis in the course of just a year or two, the only clue that it’s happened a random DEXA scan, or perhaps a broken bone.
And suddenly, you find yourself following an uncomfortable regimen of bisphosphonates, questioning whether you dare ride your bike, climb a ladder – or even play tennis or jog.
Osteoporosis stinks. You don’t want to go there, and you don’t wish it on your worst enemy – let alone your friends.
But now that bone loss is your reality, you want to tell EVERYBODY about certain changes they can make RIGHT NOW to keep from going down the rocky path you’re following.