These past several years, whenever I had occasion to visit my grandmother, I wondered if, as I stood next to her, I was getting taller or she was getting shorter.
Well, I know that in my early 40s, I clearly was not getting any taller. She was definitely shorter than I remembered, and when my youngest son, age 11, was standing next to her recently, it was evident that my grandma has been affected by osteoporosis. However, at nearly 105-years of age, she truly does not mind this at all. “I can get up by myself and walk by myself. I have lost some hearing and a bit of sight….and even a few inches, but I have not lost my appetite for food or for life!” Well said, Grandma!
Grandma has been disciplined over the past several years to make sure she has a bone density test performed on her on per her doctor’s orders. She knows that osteoporosis refers to the thinning of her bones. “Why can’t it just be the thinning of my body instead of just my bones?” she muses. I know she is in the late afternoon of her life, but at what age should I think about having a test done to determine my bone health?
According to About.com and its orthopedics section, “The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends a bone density test at least once for all women age 65 and older.” Okay. I have another 20 years to go on this one. However, I am sure that there are certain risks factors of which I should be aware that might increase my risk of osteoporosis.
As I perused the information on About.com, I met the first criteria: being female. Other risk factors include, but are not limited to, advanced age, being Caucasian or Asian, leading an inactive lifestyle, smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively, and having a family history of the disease. Aside from being female, I am Caucasian and now have a family history of osteoporosis.
Curious about what exactly a bone density test is, I researched further. Sure, I have 20 years to go yet, but I like to be prepared. However, I am well aware that over the next two decades, things can change dramatically in terms of technology and treatment options.