The silent illness affecting most older Australians

As we get older, our bones naturally lose some of their density. If allowed to continue unchecked, this can ultimately
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As we get older, our bones naturally lose some of their density. If allowed to continue unchecked, this can ultimately lead to fractures, chronic pains or disability later in life.

2 in 3 Australians over 50 – the majority of people reading this – currently have osteoporosis or osteopenia. Yet so many of us are completely unaware of the condition – let alone the devastating risks we could face in the years ahead.

This is particularly important for women, whose calcium requirements quietly but significantly increase after menopause.

Thankfully, it’s not too late to turn things around with some simple (even fun) steps.

We spoke with Dr Sonia Davison, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health Endocrinologist, about how older Australians – and particularly older women – can look after their bones.

“Osteoporosis is often described as being a ‘silent’ disease,” says Dr Davison, “meaning that the bones are thin without giving any symptoms”.

“The bone thinning process begins from around the early 30s but accelerates in the first few years around menopause.”

“Any steps that women can take to maximise bone density will help them to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis or having fractures in their later years.”

Dr Davison says one of the best ways to improve bone health is to work more calcium into your diet. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt are among the best ways to accomplish this.

In short, dairy can help you live the life you want. And that healthier, happier future can begin today.

Healthy Bones Action Week is a free 7-day challenge for over-50 Australians to boost their bone health. All it takes is four recommended daily serves of dairy, vitamin D from the sun, and some simple weight bearing exercises.

Join your fellow Starts at 60 readers from 1-7 August as we take that important first step toward stronger, healthier bones!

Along the way you’ll receive some great guidance, tips and recipes – and enter the draw for some fantastic prizes. 

Click here to sign up for the Fit, Fab & 50 Challenge today!

The rich nutrients of dairy can not only strengthen your bones, but also reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even certain cancers. But very few older women meet their recommended daily requirements.

“There are guidelines for the amount of calcium recommended at different times of life,” says Dr Davison, “and for postmenopausal women this is around 1300mg per day”.

This is the equivalent of 4 dairy serves per day, which is surprisingly easy to accomplish. Click here for some great, calcium-rich recipe ideas!

Weight-bearing exercises are another vital step toward long-term bone health. It can be as simple as walking, running or dancing – any physical activity in which the bones are made to sustain the weight of your body.

Dr Davison also recommends:

  • Avoiding smoking, alcohol or caffeine excess
  • Ensuring vitamin D levels are at recommended targets (in southern parts of Australia, a vitamin D supplement may be required)
  • Maintaining a healthy weight for height
  • Asking your doctor whether osteoporosis medications could be appropriate for your situation.

Will you be taking part in the Fit, Fab & 50 challenge this August?

Click here to sign up for the Fit, Fab & 50 challenge – and begin your journey to healthier, stronger bones. 

This post is sponsored by Dairy Australia and written independently by the Starts at 60 team. For more information, please visit the Healthy Bones Action Week website.

  1. John Kilby  

    The countries with the highest incidence of osteoporosis are the ones who consume the most dairy. Fact. It’s a no brainer. Get off of all dairy products, the industry is the one behind the ” get more cow milk”, so they can make more dollars.

    • Joy Ware  

      I agree John Kilby. Humans do not need copious amounts of dairy, any dairy at all for that matter.

  2. Beverley  

    Ah – not that simplistic John. Your statement, whilst having some basis in fact, is nevertheless misleading. If you want to say what you do, you need to be a bit more informative. You should not lead people astray.

    • John  

      The big dollars behind the big industries say it all. They have brainwashed the masses. Dairy, meat, processed food industry, etc, etc.

  3. Lynn Francis  

    My Doctor must be affiliated with the dairy companies, she encourages me to eat yoghurt, milk cheese?

    • [email protected]  

      My Dr does too.Full cream too not the light ones with all the goodness taken out of them.

  4. One of the unmentioned issues is with sun screen and slip, slop, slap.
    My doctor has said that the next generation will have more problems with osteoporosis as they avoid the sun. Everybody needs 20 minutes of full sun exposure on large areas of skin every day and it’s not happening, especially with children.
    I questioned this as my father died from a malignant melanoma behind his ear but she assured me how important sun exposure is. Obviously not in the middle of the day and certainly more limited if one has extremely fair skin however, still some sun every day.

  5. One of the unmentioned issues is with sun screen and slip, slop, slap.
    My doctor has said that the next generation will have more problems with osteoporosis as they avoid the sun. Everybody needs 20 minutes of full sun exposure on large areas of skin every day and it’s not happening, especially with children.
    I questioned this as my father died from a malignant melanoma behind his ear but she assured me how important sun exposure is. Obviously not in the middle of the day and certainly more limited if one has extremely fair skin however, still some sun every day.

  6. Robyn Hamilton  

    Load-bearing exercizes are also very important for building bone. That is why I have been a member of my local Gym for 20 years since my first fracture. I am sure that I am fitter and stronger than I was before this even though I am now well into my 60’s.

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