Your bones change throughout your lifetime, as they are continually remodeled by an absorption and formation process.
Bone density decreases as we get older. This is especially true after menopause.
Risk for osteoporosis also increases. Higher risk for osteoporosis is linked with greater chance of fractures. Americans have 2 million fractures every year due to osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis and low bone mass affects 54 million people in the United States, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.
Calcium and other mineral content decreases as well.
In general, bones become more fragile and vulnerable to breaking. You may become shorter as the spine shrinks.
The spine may seem to shrink. This is due to a change in the disks which are gel-like cushions between the vertebrae.
But the vertebrae change with age too. Diminishing mineral content causes bone to thin. The spine itself can change to a more curved shape, and becomes more packed together than before.
Aging can also result in the creation of bone spurs on vertebrae.
Osteoarthritis risk also increases with age. This arthritis erodes the cartilage that cushions the areas between bones.
The bones in your feet can be affected by aging, as the arch becomes less noticeable. This can also make you just a bit shorter.
Arms and legs could look longer, proportional to the torso. This is because while the spine experiences some shrinkage, the long bones in the arms and legs do not. They do become more brittle because of a lower mineral content.
Joints are less protected from friction between bones because of less fluid, as joints get stiffer.
Hips, knees and finger bones may have less cartilage. Finger bones can become thicker.
What can you do?
Calcium and vitamin D should be included in your diet.
Exercise can protect your bones from some of this deterioration. Even moderate exercise on a regular basis can make a noticeable difference.
Joints can retain flexibility from stretching. Walking and weight lifting help increase hip and spine bone density. Both activities put stress on bones which stimulates bone growth.