Seniors encouraged to ‘enjoy life to the fullest’ by prioritising bone health

Apr 27, 2023
Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become brittle and prone to fractures, earning it the moniker of a "silent disease". Source: Getty Images.

Older Australians are being urged to prioritise their health by undergoing a bone density scan to detect and address untreated osteoporosis, a condition that can potentially be life-threatening.

Australia incurred a staggering cost of $33.6 billion over a decade due to osteoporosis.

In addittion, a recent study conducted by The Big O Campaign found that among the surveyed individuals over the age of 70 who had been diagnosed with osteoporosis, nearly half (47 per cent) experienced limitations in their daily household tasks, while two-fifths (41 per cent) had to forgo exercise due to the condition’s impact.

Despite the dangers of untreated osteoporosis, the research further revealed that while 72 per cent of older Australians with osteoporosis surveyed had their osteoporosis diagnosed as a result of a DEXA scan (a medical imaging test that measures bone density), only 19 per cent of Australians aged over 70 years have had a DEXA scan in the last 12 months,

These figures were compared to 83 per cent who have had a flu vaccination, 75 per cent who have had an eye test, 65 per cent who have had a dental check-up, and 38 per cent who have had a hearing test.

The Big O campaign ambassador Ita Buttrose spoke of the importance of regular bone density scans and the problems that can arise if bone health is not prioritised.

“It’s vital that all older Australians know just how important our bone health is as we age and are aware of the consequences if they avoid going for their bone density scan,” Buttrose said.

“I want to jolt older Australians out of their complacency and remind them that osteoporosis screening is the big opportunity to help enjoy life to the fullest – or risk a life of missed opportunity.”

Seniors bone health.
Source: Getty Images.

Alarmingly, the Head of Monash University’s Department of Medicine, Professor Peter Ebeling AO revealed that “two in three people aged over 70 years are at risk of osteoporotic fracture, which is why it is so important that Australians over 70 go and get a bone density scan, even if they don’t have any symptoms.”

“The important thing to know is that bone density testing is a birthday present when you turn 70. It’s reimbursed by the Government and a DEXA scan will alert your GP if your skeleton is showing signs of bone loss and if you need to take action,” Ebeling said.

“For many patients a fracture is their first symptom. Undiagnosed osteoporosis can limit patients’ independence and shorten lives and we are fortunate in Australia to have DEXA scans for over 70-year-olds funded by Medicare, so I am urging all older Australians to have this scan.”

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become brittle and prone to fractures, earning it the moniker of the “silent disease”. Often, those who have it are unaware until they experience a bone break, typically in the hip, spine, or wrist.

The onset of osteoporosis results from a loss of bone mass, where the rate of bone breakdown surpasses that of bone formation. This process alters the structure of bones, which resemble a honeycomb-like structure.

In osteoporosis, the walls of the bone honeycomb become narrower, while the gaps between them increase, weakening the bone’s overall integrity. Additionally, the outer layer of the bone becomes thinner, exacerbating its fragility.


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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