Understanding The Connection Between Osteoporosis and Mental Health
Some individuals assisted by Pegasus in-home caregivers in Highland Park and elsewhere have mobility issues. Their physical conditions may also affect them emotionally. Our career home health care nurses recognize the connection between osteoporosis and mental health.
Although bones appear unchangeable, they are living tissue that is continually replenished. Old tissue breaks down, and new tissue replaces it. Osteoporosis, the loss of bone mass, occurs when bone cells die faster than new cells can replace them.
What Causes The Loss Of Bone Mass?
Young people can generally create more bone mass than is lost, and their bones stay strong. As individuals age, their body is less able to produce new bone tissue. Their bones weaken, and they become vulnerable to fractures.
Age is only one of the factors causing osteoporosis. Other factors contributing to increased risk include:
- Ethnicity – Caucasians and Asians lose bone mass quicker than other races.
- Genetics – individuals with a family history of osteoporosis are more likely to develop the condition.
- Physical size – smaller individuals have less bone mass to start with than larger-framed people.
- Sex – Females, in general, are at higher risk than males.
- Sex-related hormones – postmenopausal women face higher risk as their estrogen levels decrease. The decline of testosterone in elderly men also reduces their bone mass.
These are factors beyond your patient’s control. There are other factors that you can help your patient change. Improving lifestyle habits like the following can help reduce their risk of osteoporosis:
- Lack of physical activity
- Over-consumption of alcohol
- Poor dietary habits, including eating disorders
- Substance abuse
Your Pegasus team includes specialists who can assist your patient develop healthier habits.
Nutrition also plays a significant role in osteoporosis prevention and treatment. The dietitian on your team can help your patient choose and prepare bone-healthy foods.
Other risk factors include a long list of medications and other medical conditions. These include, but aren’t limited to:
- Anti-seizure medications
- Autoimmune diseases
- Endocrine disorders
- Excessive thyroid medication
- Neurological disorders
As a home health nurse, it’s essential that you learn about your patient’s diagnoses and medications. That includes knowing what supplements, herbal remedies, and OTC products they consume.
Sometimes drugs or dosages can be modified. You may discover that your patient isn’t taking their medications correctly. Or you may learn that they’re ignoring symptoms and not seeking appropriate medical care.
Symptoms Of Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is regarded as a “silent disease” because it rarely exhibits early symptoms. Advanced symptoms to watch for in your patients include:
- Bone fractures from minor injuries
- Getting shorter
- Lower back pain
- Shortness of breath
- Stooped posture
Encourage your patients to seek medical care. Osteoporosis is progressive, but it can be treated.
What Is The Connection Between Osteoporosis And Mental Health?
Physical health and mental health are interrelated, especially when stress is involved. Some studies have shown that stress increases the risk of developing osteoporosis. Chronic diseases are known to increase stress levels for many people.
There’s a strong connection also between depression and osteoporosis. Bone mass loss is greater in depressed individuals than in those who are not anxious or depressed. The loss is even greater when the person is also stressed.
Individuals respond differently, of course, to a diagnosis. For most, osteoporosis affects their quality of life. Some adapt better than others and don’t experience as much anxiety or distress.
Some individuals become self-conscious of the changes in their posture. They curtail their social activities because they are embarrassed about their appearance. They may become isolated and lonely, which is detrimental to their mental health.
Fractures are the primary worry for individuals with osteoporosis. Falls are the most significant cause of fractures. Fall avoidance governs all their activities.
They may avoid social events for fear of someone bumping into them and causing them to fall. Others give up activities they’ve long enjoyed. Many erroneously stop all physical activity.
Loss of mobility in an osteoporosis patient also contributes to their isolation. Although all bones are subject to breakage, most fractures are in the hips, wrists, and spine. The fractures may require surgery to repair.
Recovering from broken homes or surgery can be slow and painful. For some, healing remains elusive. They lose their independence, which for many contributes to decreased mental health.
How Is Osteoporosis Treated?
Although care must be taken with any physical activity, specific exercises increase bone mass and balance. Your Pegasus team includes physical and occupational therapists. They will design custom movements that are safe and effective.
You can also help your patient reduce the risk of falls in their home. Various osteoporosis medications serve to slow the progress of bone loss. All have side effects which you may need to monitor.
Bone-building medications are prescribed for severe cases or when traditional drugs are ineffective. Most of these are administered via injection. They are for short-term use only.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our skilled in-home caregivers in Highland Park and our other locations strive to keep each client independent and comfortable. Our career home health care nurses help improve quality of life for clients with physical conditions and mental health issues.