Osteoporosis happens when you have lower than normal bone mass, or that your bone loss occurs at a higher rate than normal. It is an age-related disease, meaning that the older you get, the higher your risk of osteoporosis is. The condition is tricky to diagnose, as it doesn’t appear during a normal physical; generally, you’ll only learn you have osteoporosis after you’ve broken a bone. That’s why it’s important to follow a lifestyle that will reduce your risk of developing the condition; if you have it, the same steps can be taken to mitigate its overall effect on your health.

The number one thing to keep in mind when we’re talking about bone health is nutrition. The two most important components of a diet with bone health in mind are calcium and vitamin D; calcium is necessary for bone growth and density, while vitamin D helps your body to absorb it. Other nutrients, like vitamin K and magnesium, are also important to healthy bone structure. For most folks, a healthy dose of dairy in the diet can help mitigate the effects of bone loss; when you have a vegan diet, or other dietary concerns that prevent you from consuming milk, it’s important to find your nutrients from other sources. Almonds, for example, are high in calcium. For vitamin D, you want to spend some time outside; our bodies make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Anytime it’s impossible to meet nutritional guidelines, consider supplements.

While a bit of fun is healthy for the soul, overuse of substances can cause health problems, including osteoporosis. This means you should be mindful of your alcohol consumption. Too much alcohol can have a negative effect on your bone structure; further to this, drinking too much can put you at risk of falling over, and a fall when you have osteoporosis can be an emergency. Smoking increases bone loss and decreases calcium absorption, so it’s best to quit.

Osteoporosis alone can cause problems, but the real risks of the condition are usually found in conjunction with falling. Exercise is an important way of mitigating risk; the more flexible and balanced you are, the less likely you are to fall. Weak and atrophying muscles can also contribute to your risk of falling. Make sure your home is well lit, and if possible, live in a space without stairs to access the front door, and with a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen all on the first floor. Clean your home regularly to get rid of tripping hazards.

All of these lifestyle changes can seem burdensome, so remember that you don’t have to take everything on at once; slow, gradual change still means you’re reducing your risk of an accident every day. Sometimes, you may find that your daily activities have become too burdensome; when that happens, there are recognized home care services that can help take some of the load off your shoulders.