Osteoporosis Long-Term Care

What You Need to Know

  • Osteoporosis does not develop overnight. You can lose bone mass steadily for many years without experiencing any symptoms or signs of the disease until a bone fractures.
  • Fractures cause pain, agitation, immobility and transfers to hospital among frail older adults living in the community and in long-term care.
  • Hip fractures in frail older adults can cause long-term pain and erode their quality of life. Breaking a hip changes everything about a person’s life. A person will go from being able to do what they enjoy, to being incapacitated, experiencing disabling pain, loss of control, loss of mobility and independence.
  • Up to 30 per cent of residents in long-term care have vertebral fractures.
  • Those with hip or vertebral fractures have substantially increased risk of death after the fracture.

What You Can Do

  • Talk to your health provider if you are concerned about becoming frail or are caring for a parent who may be frail. It is important to determine if you or your parents are at risk of falls and fractures. 
  • Consider calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Osteoporosis Canada recommends 1200 mg calcium intake through diet. If this requirement is not met through food, consider 500 mg calcium/day via supplements. Vitamin D intake should be between 800-2000 units/day, in older adults. 
  • Consider exercise that improves strength and balance – for example – weight-bearing exercise, Tai Chi, etc. It is important to talk to your health provider to help you identify safe ways to exercise.
  • Consider wearing hip protectors. Hip protectors are designed to prevent hip fractures as a result of a fall.
  • Consider ways to make your living environment safe to prevent falls, for example anti-slip shoes and surfaces, walk bars, etc.

Resources

Staying Healthy and Safe by Building Stronger Bones (PDF, 631 KB)

This book can help you learn about osteoporosis and broken bones, and what you can do to build stronger bones. 

Strategies to Prevent Hip Fracture in Long-Term Care (PDF, 170 KB)

Powerpoint presentation on preventing hip fractures in nursing home residents.