Having “The Talk” With Your Aging Parents

Having “the talk” is never easy. It’s difficult, it’s uncomfortable, and it can be a downright awkward  experience if you’re not properly prepared. No one ever wants to broach that particular subject with their parents, but it’s often a crucial responsibility that comes with growing older.

So while it may seem uncomfortable at first, it’s ultimately rewarding to sit down with your loved ones and have “the talk”—about osteoporosis.

Yes, even though it’s not a common topic of conversation, speaking with your parents about protecting their bone health can be as important as talking about the birds and the bees. As people leave their thirties and enter middle age, their bone density begins to decline. This loss can increase a person’s risk of bone fractures, and once an injury occurs, their quality of life can drop significantly. Reduced mobility, increased dependence on loved ones, and low self-esteem can all result from an osteoporotic break. And it’s not just patients who feel these effects. Imagine watching one of your parents go from healthy and independent to frail and unhappy. One conversation could help prevent this unfortunate outcome for both you and your loved ones.

That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide that will help make the process smooth and successful. When you sit down with your parents to talk about osteoporosis, be sure to mention the following statistics. And above all, tell them to talk to their doctor about getting a 10-year fracture risk assessment at their next check-up!

Osteoporosis afflicts two million Canadians

It can be easy to underestimate the threat of osteoporosis if you’ve never encountered it before. Unfortunately, the condition is incredibly common; it affects millions of Canadians, regardless of age or gender. In fact, osteoporotic fractures happen more often than heart attack, stroke and breast cancer diagnoses combined.

When speaking about osteoporosis with your parents, be sure to mention the condition’s prevalence. Once your loved ones understand that the threat is real, they’ll be more likely to take direct action against it.

One-in-three women and one-in-five men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture

The effects of osteoporosis can be life-altering, especially when it comes to fragility fractures of the hip or spine. Since the symptoms of bone loss are often difficult to spot, many people won’t know they’re at risk until they endure a fracture. Injuries like these not only cause immense pain, but they can also limit a person’s mobility and independence, even after the recovery process is complete.

It’s harder to ignore a condition when you’re aware of the impact it can have on people’s lives. Bone loss is no exception, so tell your parents about the terrible outcomes of osteoporotic fractures. When they understand the dangers of the condition, they may be spurred to take action.

One-in-three patients will re-fracture their hip within a year

A single osteoporotic hip fracture can devastate an elderly loved one, but it can also increase the risk for further fractures in the future. About 33 per cent of patients who suffer these traumas end up enduring another fracture within a year. Sharing this statistic with a loved one may help them realize that once they suffer their first fracture, their quality of life may never be the same.

37 per cent of men and 28 per cent of women die within one year of a hip fracture

While an osteoporotic hip fracture can drastically reduce a patient’s quality of life, it can also have even graver consequences. When discussing bone loss with your family, it’s important to note that a significant number of hip fracture patients die within a year of their initial injury. In these cases, taking proactive action against osteoporosis can literally be a matter of life and death.

Talking about osteoporosis with your loved one can be gloomy affair, but there’s one important point to stress throughout the process: they can still take action. Encourage them to speak with their doctors about the condition and about getting a 10-year fracture risk assessment. One conversation can help them preserve their quality of life for years to come.

After reading this article, are you more likely to speak to your parents about getting a 10-year fracture risk assessment?

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