Move it or lose it. I am referring to exercise. Strengthening your muscles will strengthen your bones and improve your balance at the same time. It is never too late to begin a program of muscle strengthening.
If you have suffered from a hip, wrist, spine or other aging fracture, talk to your doctor about the medications available that can reduce your risk of a future fracture. The family of medications called bisphosphonates is often the first recommended treatment if you have no contraindications. (Fosamax was the first on the market, there are now three others approved by the FDA: Actonel, Boniva and Aclasta.)
The 80- and 90-year-old religious sisters that I have cared for have taught me the importance of emphasizing prevention over treatment. Most of the sisters are taking additional vitamin D and are constantly encouraged to exercise. I often test them to see if they have the strength to get out of a chair powered by their own thigh strength rather than holding on to the arms of the chair. This helps them gauge their strength and balance. And finally, yes, many of them are on bisphosphanates too. Sometimes, the addition of medications can make a big difference.
Have you asked your mother about the health of her bones? If you are 65 years old or older, have you had a bone density test? Share your experience with the test. What are you doing to protect your bones? Have you had your vitamin D levels checked? Are you getting enough vitamin D? Has your doctor prescribed medications for your bones?
As always, I welcome your comments and questions to this very important matter.
Dr. Marie Savard is an ABC News medical contributor.