In 2012, the National Health Interview Survey reported that over 51 million Americans were diagnosed with some form of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, which is a form of arthritis characterized by the wear and tear of smooth cartilage. Though osteoarthritis can affect anyone of any age, adults over 50 are particularly vulnerable. Osteoarthritis depletes the protective space between bones, which can cause difficulty in everyday movements, such as walking and climbing stairs.
Fortunately, changes in lifestyle, such as exercise and diet, can help to strengthen the body’s defense against osteoarthritis. Below, we’ll go over the different steps older adults can take to prevent osteoarthritis.
Leverage Preventive Care Services
To spot the risk factors before they get worse, have a professional analyze your current health situation and determine your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis. Adults aged 65 and older can use the preventive care services available in their Medicare plans. Medicare enrollees can see their primary care physician for their free annual wellness visit. In this annual wellness visit, doctors will ask enrollees questions about their current health situation in order to identify warning signs for disability and disease and determine which medical screenings might be necessary. Doctors will also formulate a personalized prevention plan, which is a list of lifestyle changes you might need to make to effectively prevent disabilities and diseases.
Osteoarthritis occurs when people place too much pressure on their joints and wear down their cartilage. However, when the surrounding muscles are strong enough to support the bones and joints, the risk of wearing down cartilage decreases. Build muscle strength by exercising regularly. Water exercises, such as swimming and water aerobics, can be particularly effective since they help build strength without putting strain on the joints.
Older adults can also leverage their Medicare plans to find fitness activities that are safe to practice under their current health situation. KelseyCare Advantage illustrates that Medicare Advantage benefit bundles often come with membership to senior-focused fitness programs. Aside from access to gyms and equipment, these programs also include live classes and instructional videos. Since the instructors of these classes are used to working with older adults, the guidance they provide can account for the usual limitations of aging.
Maintain A Healthy Body Weight
When people are overweight, their joints tend to have a more difficult time bearing their body weight. This is especially true of the joints that keep the body standing, such as the knees, hips, and feet joints. The strain on these joints increases the risk of breaking down cartilage.
Thus, to prevent osteoarthritis, you need to take careful measures to maintain a healthy body weight. The BMI calculator found at Calculator.net can help you determine how much you need to weigh given your age and height. Your BMI, or your body mass index, is your weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in meters. The results show you how much body fat you have in proportion to how tall you are. Having a healthy BMI means that your bones can reasonably support the weight you have.
Eat The Right Food
Eating right can give you the energy boost you need to exercise properly. It can also help you cut down to a healthy body mass index. And according to Dr. Liji Thomas, certain foods can also improve your body’s defenses against osteoarthritis. The carotenoids in leafy green vegetables can reduce inflammation in the body. Fish, walnuts, flaxseed, and olive oil contain anti-inflammatory fatty acids, such as omega-3. On the other end, you should avoid foods that promote inflammation, such as highly processed fried foods, alcohol, and red meat.
Though a person’s likelihood of developing osteoarthritis increases with age, there are still ways older adults can protect their bodies. Preventive strategies, such as maintaining a healthy body weight, staying fit, and eating the right food can all help older adults reduce osteoarthritis risks.
For more information do visit the BCS Orthopaedic.