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Women Over 50: How is Your Bone Density?

Women Over 50: How is Your Bone Density?

We spent last weekend in Bodega Bay, where I discovered a hazard of wearing multi-focal lenses. It made me decide I needed to get my bone density checked, fast.  Because things have could have ended, much worse than they did.

Women Over 50: How is Your Bone Density?

We arrived late Saturday morning, and headed straight for the beach.

A do-rag is a great way to protect your hair from the wind. You can pop a hat over it, when the sun is out.

Women Over 50: How is Your Bone Density?

We hauled our chairs and books down the bluff, to sit at the shore. Several hours of reading, with the music of crashing waves, was my idea of perfection.

We did a little wine tasting, had a fabulous dinner, and crashed early.

 

 

The following morning was foggy and ethereal looking. I love that kind of weather.

Women Over 50: How is Your Bone Density?

We drove north to Jenner, where the Russian River meets the Pacific Ocean.

Women Over 50: How is Your Bone Density?

AFTER A TRULY MEDIOCRE BREAKFAST HERE…I HEADED ACROSS THE STREET TO WATCH THE KAYAKERS

As I started back across the road, my toe caught on the raised edge of asphalt. I lurched forward and slammed to my hands and knees. My hands and knees were fine. But my hip was trashed. Game over.

We headed home. Worries of osteoporosis and hip fracture pounded in my head, throbbed in my hip. When was my last bone density test?
The moment we arrived, I downed 2 calcium pills followed by 3 Advil. How crazy was that? If I’d cracked my hip, those calcium pills weren’t going to help one bit.
I was sore, really sore, and upset. That classic scenario of older women falling and breaking their hip was on rewind through my mind. I felt old and frail.
Monday morning I called my Doctor. She was booked solid so I hobbled into urgent care. I couldn’t stand or sit without agony. My leg was tingling and the pain was off the charts. They immediately put me in a wheel chair and took me for X-rays.

Women Over 50: How is Your Bone Density?
The good news, nothing looked cracked on the X-rays.
The bad news, she wanted me to use a walker for the next few weeks! OMG.

The image,  the word “walker” conjured up, knocked me way out of my comfort zone. Horror, anxiety and denial collided right there in urgent care. Nope, not me, not happening. I just couldn’t use a walker. I actually begged the doctor to prescribe crutches instead.

What the hell is that all about?

I’m flat on my back, with anti inflammatory, and pain meds. I’m icing my hip, which isn’t easy. And thinking about my age. A lot.

 

I’ve been reading about calcium intake and bone density for women over 50. I’ve got a couple strikes against me.

  • I’m postmenopausal, which can lead to bone loss. Decreases in estrogen causes an increase in bone absorption and decrease in calcium absorption.
  • I went dairy-free, just over a year ago. Dairy is a major source of calcium.
  • Vitamin D is necessary for absorption of calcium. I am always covered in strong sunscreen and avoid the sun like a vampire.
  • Weight-bearing exercise is important for maintaining and building bone density. I stopped exercising about 6 years ago.
  • Drinking too much alcohol can damage your bones. What’s considered too much?

 

This is a wake up call for me.

  1. I’ll be getting a bone density test.
  2. I’ll be starting an exercise regimen.
  3. I’ll be taking my vitamins and minerals regularly, including calcium/magnesium with vitamin D.
  4. I’ll be calling my optometrist to check on my new eyeglasses. They have larger lenses.

I suspect the uneven asphalt was visible below the bottom of my small frames. Sadly, I didn’t see it.

 

My son saw this from a different perspective. His comment to my whining?

“It’s not like you tripped over your walker and keeled over at a Bingo tournament, Mom.”

Thanks for that son, I feel younger already.

 

Do you take calcium?

Have you had a bone density test?

 

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54 Comments

  1. June 5, 2015 / 5:24 pm

    Jennifer, SO sorry to hear about your fall. What a horrible way to end your trip to Bodega Bay.

    I am not yet 50 but I know I am at risk for osteoporosis so I am taking calcium & getting my recommended about of sun. I do need to get on with the weight bearing exercise though. Thanks for the reminder.

    Wishing you a speedy recovery!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:29 pm

      Thanks Cheri! This was a reminder for me.

  2. Jan Leanne
    June 5, 2015 / 5:50 pm

    Please do a lot of reading about dietary sources of calcium. Milk is not all it’s been cracked up to be. Yogurt is good and a vegetarian diet is the best. Lots of good calcium in vegetables! Google “foods that leach calcium from bones” and prepare to weep with dismay!

    Daily walks of 1-2 miles, weightlifting 3x a week with supervision (at first) and a great diet are the keys to successful bone strengthening. I’m 76 and doing well despite having osteoporosis in my back and osteopenia in my hips – so far, so good.

    And please, stop fussing about your age. Thank god you are alive, in pretty good health and looking great and that you ARE getting older. Dying young is no fun.

    Best wishes – Jan

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:31 pm

      Amen Jan!! I’m looking at dietary sources that are vegan and there are plenty of them.
      Right again. The alternative to aging is no fun at all.

  3. June 5, 2015 / 6:32 pm

    Oh dear!! So sorry to hear you are in pain and that this hip will take a while to heal. I love your sunglasses and scarf in this photo…. just sending you my heartfelt wishes to heal quickly Comfortable rest with nice linens, good wine, dark chocolate and lots of compliments help any Leo recover their bruised bones and dignity.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      Thanks Georgia! I shared your healing advice with my huband:). Dark chocolate is calling my name right now.

  4. Bluebooby
    June 5, 2015 / 7:09 pm

    Ouch! I do take calcium WITH vitamin D because I also stopped a lot of dairy recently and I also avoid the sun. Please take one pill twice a day for proper dosage otherwise you are just pissing it away. I would take a walker over crutches any day…just go with the pink tennis balls at the bottom 🙂

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:33 pm

      That’s what was missing! The pink tennis balls. I’m sure it would have appealed to me much better that way! xoxo

  5. FL-Rose
    June 5, 2015 / 8:27 pm

    Hope you feel better real soon -This is a very good and maybe needed subject for us 50+ – I do take Calcium and Vitamin D, also spend some time sitting on my terrace daily – Had my bone density test last month – It’s still very good – Really happy since I’m getting up there in age…and back and bone problems run in the family!
    Have a nice weekend!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:34 pm

      Thank you! It’s a long process, but I’m feeling cautiously better today.

  6. June 5, 2015 / 9:13 pm

    I have been taking calcium supplements since my complete hysterectomy 16 years ago. I take Viactiv chews, which contain calcium and Vitamin D. Five years ago I went from two a day to three a day. I get a bone density scan every two years, and the calcium supplements have actually helped me build back bone around my hip.

    I don’t do weight-bearing exercises, but I do 45 mins to 1 hour of ballet stretches every day, which helps to maintain my flexibility and balance.

    Being French, I can’t live w/out my wine and cheese. Life is too short not to enjoy them.

    You were very lucky, my dear friend, that you didn’t break anything, although it did put a damper on your vacation.

    Talk soon.

    xoxo, M-T

    P.S.: I HATE bingo!!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:36 pm

      I hate Bingo too! That’s why my son was teasing me:)
      xoxo

  7. June 5, 2015 / 9:32 pm

    So sorry, and I do hope your hip heals quickly. I broke my leg (fibula, 2 places, down toward my ankle) 25 years ago, out walking with my husband one evening (trying to leap over a ditch, don’t ask, but it wasn’t graceful!). Even at not yet 40, it shook me, made me very conscious of mortality.
    But no, I haven’t had a bone density test and I don’t take calcium. I do include dairy and other good sources of calcium in my diet and I work to manage absorption (sunshine, Vit. D, etc.). And I exercise — running is actually good for bone density as is weight-loaded walking which I do enough of.
    Most importantly, I’m no longer trying to leap ditches. . . .;-)

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:37 pm

      That’s what this did to me. It made me very aware of my mortality, fragility and age. Wake up call. I’m not going to leap anything from now on.

  8. June 6, 2015 / 6:31 am

    The bone density test two years ago was when they discovered my osteoporosis in my spine…early stages…so I began weight training with a trainer. It has made so much difference in my life and I did not start working out until I was 60. I HIGHLY recommend every woman over 50 get a bone scan and start some type of strength training…it is huge. I have been able to catch myself from failing in situations where I would have gone down if I had not strengthened my bones and legs.
    You look fabulous, but I am so sorry you have been in pain.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:38 pm

      I need to get back to the gym Pam! I let exercise go at exactly the wrong time.

  9. Sheila
    June 6, 2015 / 6:59 am

    Hope you are feeling better with each day. Thanks for the reminder to take our calcium and vit D pills. I am very lax in that area.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:39 pm

      I was too, but no more. It’s the first thing I take with my tea in the morning:))

  10. Sheila
    June 6, 2015 / 6:59 am

    Hope you are feeling better with each day. Thanks for the reminder to take our calcium and vit D pills. I am very lax in that area.

  11. Catherine
    June 6, 2015 / 8:27 am

    I hope you’re feeling better Jennifer…sounds painful. I take magnesium and you’re right I think calcium tablets are a ‘must’ I’ll be adding them to my vitamin list!!
    I love your son’s comment…our children say it as they see it 🙂
    And definitely keep on the dairy hugely beneficial…sending you lots of love xx

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:40 pm

      xoxo Catherine. Gotta love kids honesty.

  12. June 6, 2015 / 9:02 am

    Thanks for posting this important reminder. I am need an update on my bone density, until I will keep popping calcium, pumping iron and watching my footing. So glad your injury was not more serious.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:41 pm

      Me too. But it scared me seriously. Which is a good thing because it’s not too late for me.

  13. June 6, 2015 / 10:03 am

    Oh I am sorry to hear that you have had a mishap…you have time to make some changes which should help you regain your mobility. Walking is great exercise and is considered weight bearing!
    I have osteopenia which indicates bone loss so I do enjoy foamed milk in my coffee and indulge in a piece of cheese now and then…calcium is not just in dairy either so do some research while you are on the mend.
    Take care and try to be positive during your convalescence.
    I’d be shocked too if I was prescribed a walker! I have never ever gone to a bingo hall….perhaps I am missing something?

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:43 pm

      I doubt we are missing much at the bingo parlors, but I could be wrong. My spirits are up and down depending on how much it hurts.
      I will be walking as soon as I can. Thanks so much!!

  14. June 6, 2015 / 11:04 am

    I’m 62, I’ve had several bone density tests (I am hypothyroid, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis, and also have osteopenia in my hips). I do take calcium supplements and also lost about 40 lb between 2012 and 2013. I’ve fallen several times since 2010. I am now taking fall prevention classes. I echo Jan’s comments – I’ve seen my husband trip and recover and not trip because he has a physical job and has good strength – if I trip, down I go. I hope you recover soon, and glad you were able to have some enjoyment of the trip before its untimely end.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:45 pm

      I have thyroid problems too Alana. I didn’t realize it was another strike against me!! Fall prevention classes sound valuable. Where do you take them? I’ll have a look to see if any are available near me.

  15. Linda S.
    June 6, 2015 / 1:58 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    Wow, what a timely post!

    So sorry to hear about your mishap! I broke my ankle in 2000 and the opposite of you I hated the crutches! I had my mom’s walker here still at my house so I used that instead. My husband used to tease me because of the clanking on the hardwood floors so he nicknamed me Marley. (from A Christmas Carol) 🙁

    I had a bone density 5 years ago at age 52 and my results were not good. Osteopenia in my hips and osteoporosis in my spine! I instantly felt OLD. I just had another one last month, my spine is a little worse but I lost 19% of my bone density in my hips so now I have osteoporosis in those too. My doctor wants me to take Fosamax or biophosphonates as they are called but I said NO WAY. After reading up on all the possible side effects no thank you. And they only help a small percentage of patients.

    I was so bummed out for a few days…I exercise 6 days a week, take calcium and Vit D, watch my alcohol, don’t drink excessive caffeine. But I think the real problem is my frame and weight…I’m small boned, tall and on the thinner side. I did find a really great book that I bought on Amazon. It’s called “The Myth of Osteoporosis” and it calmed my fears a lot. I would suggest anyone with this diagnosis to read it. It’s very informative.

    Also, I read recently that you need to take Vit K-2 with the Vit D to make it absorb better so I bought some of that too.

    Sorry about the long comment, but since you asked ha ha

    Linda

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:47 pm

      Yes I read that too Linda. Apparently if you take D without K-2, the calcium is not absorbed into our bones, but our joints and tissues. Not our goal!!

  16. June 6, 2015 / 2:00 pm

    Oh no! Hope you heal quickly and are back in business soon!

  17. June 6, 2015 / 3:41 pm

    Oh Jennifer, I’m so sorry you were hurt. I’ve been recovering from a sprained foot for over a month and had to use crutches, I know how you feel about the idea of a walker. Ugh! I did a Lifeline screening for osteoporosis last year and was happy to learn I was at low risk. I don’t take any supplements right now. I guess it helps to be a cheese head. Feel better soon and I’m so glad you didn’t have a fracture.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:50 pm

      I was sceptical but relieved, when she said it wasn’t broken. I could not believe it hurt so badly with a break! What must a break feel like?? I hope I never learn.

  18. Susie
    June 6, 2015 / 9:38 pm

    So sorry to hear about the fall that you took. It hurt to even read about. I hope that your hip will stop hurting very soon.

    I have never had a bone density test, but I do take magnesium/calcium supplements and prescription strength Vitamin D. Vitamin D levels can be easily checked anytime the doctor does blood work for anything.

    Here in the Midwest, depending upon the season, you would either get severe frost bite, sunburn, or be arrested for indecent exposure, by the time you exposed enough skin for enough time to get sufficient Vitamin D benefits from the sun.

    Take care.

    Susie D.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:52 pm

      Also take into account the skin cancer risk if you got with that much sun!! Thanks for sharing Susie:)

  19. June 7, 2015 / 2:58 pm

    I worry about my bones, too. I’m still in menopause but I drink plenty of wine on the weekends. However, I do exercise regularly, so hopefully that will put the odds in my favor……maybe. Because I”m not giving up my wine!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:53 pm

      I’m not giving my wine up either so will be exercising as soon as possible.

  20. Wendy
    June 7, 2015 / 3:15 pm

    I am so sorry! No calcium here yet, but will be looking into that lickers split.m and getting out the weights again! Hang in there, but know I am sending the best thoughts!

  21. Peggy Bryant
    June 7, 2015 / 5:01 pm

    Hope you are feeling better. I do want to pass on information my gynecologist told me. Women should no longer take calcium in pill form. It can lead to heart issues as you age. Our calcium should come from our food source. All very confusing since women are removing calcium from from their diet. Please research for yourself. Wishing you a speedy recovery. Peggy

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:55 pm

      I’ve been reading about kidney stones and calcium supplements. So I expect the safest route is through diet.

  22. Priscilla
    June 7, 2015 / 5:12 pm

    I slipped on ice in January and fractured my elbow and rib. I started taking calcium. In April I stepped on uneven asphalt and my ankle turned and I broke my foot. After this fall I requested a bone density test.
    These falls are not in my plan to age gracefully!

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:57 pm

      I’m sorry Pricilla and hear you loud and clear. This isn’t what I expected or want either. I hope your bone density is ok. I felt like a klutz when I fell and am feeling frail now.

  23. June 7, 2015 / 10:16 pm

    As we both know, this was a huge loss for me as well. But once again, you have taken to at least finding humor in all kinds of situations and I see your son is taking after you. I’m totally with you on the walker, no way in hell would I do that as well. By the way, my friend, how’s the recovery coming along? Any good reading accomplished this past week?
    As for the calcium, I’m a true believer in daily dose of yogurt and fresh broccoli as well. Weight lifting is a must in my daily book and I’m totally hooked on pilate’s reformer classes (twice a week). You can do this my friend, too bad we don’t live by one another, we could be work out partners as well.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 7:59 pm

      I have another friend hooked on the reformer. Non impact and very good for posture. We have a local studio I will be checking out. I’m so sorry we couldn’t get together!!
      xoxo

  24. Rebecca Hively
    June 8, 2015 / 11:32 am

    Yes, I have been taking calcium with magnesium and Vitamin D for almost 7 years (I’m 62) after my bone-density test showed osteoperosis in my lower spine. I’ve never wanted to take a prescribed medication so opted for the supplement and trying to eat more healthy greens (which I have succeeded at NOT). I do enjoy my wine which also a deterrent. But I do exercise (walk a couple miles a day) and do what little I can to alleviate the chances of a fall.

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      I’m going to add lots of broccoli to my diet. It’s not my favorite veggie, but better than broken bones. Those prescriptions sound like they have horrible side effects. But then, don’t all drugs? Cheers!

  25. June 8, 2015 / 7:12 pm

    Chemo for 11 years didn’t help my bone density so bone density scans and 50k weekly units of Vitamin D are part of my regular regimen. Since chemo, I’ve taken Boniva, except this last year when I was on a “Boniva vacation.” As of this month, I’m back on it. So far, so good.

    Here’s something else to watch out for in a fall: My dog ran in front of me as I was climbing down from a rock wall. I landed on a stone walkway in perfect yoga plank position. Lucky me because it could have been terrible, especially since I’m in the middle of nowhere, alone. Later that evening, I had lightening bolt flashes of light in my right eye. It was not a torn retina, as I feared, but as a result of the G-forces sustained in my nifty landing, the viscous part inside the eyeball pulled away from the ball itself. It took time for it to heal, but my ophthalmologist said he can statistically guarantee the same thing will happen to the other eye in the next year!

    XOXOX,
    Brenda

    • Jennifer
      Author
      June 8, 2015 / 8:03 pm

      Oh lord Brenda!! How awful to be just waiting for another problem with your eyes!! Luckily I don’t climb rock walls:)) I hope that helps me!!
      XOX

  26. June 9, 2015 / 4:15 pm

    Hi Jennifer,
    It’s interesting to read this, but I am so sorry that the post came about because of your fall. Love your son’s comment! But I guess it is a wakeup call for a few of us out there that follow you — can’t deny that exercise and minding our diet can only be a good thing, and that it doesn’t take alot of time per day for it to add up to a big difference later in life. I wish I liked exercising though. I read so many blogs about how people would miss it if they stopped, but that’s not me. Anyway, good reminder of self care. xx Nancy

  27. June 9, 2015 / 6:47 pm

    Oh, no!! What a horrendous way to end what sounded like a perfect day. Sending healing thoughts out to you. Be well… and walker free!

  28. Jen
    June 11, 2015 / 12:15 pm

    Oh no! That’s not fun. Hope you are on the mend. I’ve added weight training to my exercises with bone density in mind. I’ve trimmed down on my dairy consumption so weights augment it. Try to enjoy the rest period. Lots of books and tea!

  29. June 14, 2015 / 6:18 am

    Dear Jennifer, I am so glad that nothing was broken. It is very scary ! I took several tumbles before my hip replacements, even though my bone density is fine the cartilage was practically nonexistent. My balance is still off even with myriads of rehab and a lot of walking!! So just be very careful out there!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

  30. June 22, 2015 / 1:43 pm

    Ohhhhhhh Boy! I just read this. I am heading for a hip replacement in two weeks. My hip started “going south” way over a year ago. I was avoiding the inevitible. The good news is I can’t wait to get it done (I will have to use one of those things on wheels for a couple of weeks as well). I have not been good about taking calcium etc. My doctor wanted me to take evista (at the tune of $200 a month). I took it for one month did my research and started taking algae cal + strontium boost. There are other companies that do similar formulas. This just happens to be the one I chose. Read the studies I think it is the way to go! Good Luck!

  31. October 21, 2015 / 9:03 pm

    I left a message on your twitter before I read the story. I don’t drink as I have lupus. I take 50,000 units of Vitamin D on Sunday n Thurs. Unless told by a dr. Don’t take vitamins especially if they aren’t coded with safety
    Great book Deadly Antioxidants by Dr Shawn Talbott Amazon. Calcium n Magnesium together are important as your gyn will tell you and the article. Protandim helps over 600 oxidative stress diseases. Scientifically proven Don’t wait to get sick

    • Jennifer
      Author
      October 22, 2015 / 4:30 pm

      That’s a lot of Vit D! I do take Cal & Mag with vitamin D. I also supplement and take 2,009 extra D daily because I don’t get any dun exposure. It’s a process to keep on top of these things, but worth it!

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