One of the best ways to age in place in Australia is to stay active and keep healthy. This could mean going for a walk around your Newcastle retirement village, playing golf with your friends, pottering around the garden or any number of other senior-friendly activities.
However, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, spinal injuries are on the rise in older demographics, largely due to more falls occurring.
So to continue enjoying your senior living, how should you be taking care of your spine?
Get tested to be more aware
One way a spine can get damaged is due to a condition known as osteoporosis.
One way a spine can get damaged is due to a condition known as osteoporosis. According to the Victoria government's Better Health Channel (BHC), this is where your bones lose more minerals than they produce, leading to decreased density and, thus, strength.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare suggests that around 600,000 of us currently suffer with the issue.
So, considering that osteoporosis often comes without any symptoms, how do you know you have it? You can ask your doctor about getting a bone density test via a duel-energy absorptiometry scan (DXA). This procedure is short and painless, says the BHC, and could even come with a Medicare rebate if you meet certain requirements (which your doctor will be able to outline).
Lifestyle habits to protect your spine
Whether you are suffering reduced bone density or you are simply wanting to take important measures to safeguard your spinal health, there are a number of lifestyle choices you can make.
The first is about how you move. There are certain types of movement you can avoid that will reduce your chances of fracturing something. For example, rounding your back with straight legs, such as when you touch your toes, is something you should always avoid. If you need to lift a heavy item, either bend your knees and lift carefully, or ask one of AEH's friendly staff for assistance.
Also, the US National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends supporting your back with one hand when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding bending over forwards when this occurs.
To help prevent falls, you should never try to reach too far overhead, as it can unbalance your weight.
Finally, a balanced diet with a healthy dose of calcium can help prevent osteoporosis from ever occurring. The BHC recommends you consume around 1,000 milligrams of this mineral each day, or 1,300 mg if you are over 70. For reference, there is around 305 mg in a standard glass of milk.