University of Illinois Extension

General Overview

According to the 2004 Surgeon General's Report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis, 30 years ago, little was known about bone disease. Weak and broken bones were thought to be just a part of the aging process. Individuals can affect their bone health through diet and physical activity so the effects of aging on bones can be lessened.

A broken bone after age 50 can mean that your bones are weakening. For the elderly, a hip fracture increases the mortality rate and if the individual survives, will likely end up in a nursing home within the year. Many of the elderly limit their physical activity, because they are afraid that they will fall.

Weakened bones do not cause pain. In fact, by the time the bones have weakened enough to cause a fracture, it is almost too late to strengthen the bones again. From childhood on, consuming good sources of dietary calcium and vitamin D along with participating in weight-bearing physical activity is key to bone health.

Your physician can help you assess your risk of osteoporosis. Check the section on "Diagnosing Osteoporosis" on this website to find ways that osteoporosis is currently diagnosed.