Bone mineral density tests are recommended for women who are 65 or older. If there are risk factors for osteoporosis, the screenings may be recommended before then. Some of the risk factors are low body mass, a history of smoking, early menopause, or osteoporosis runs in the family.
Why is Bone Density Important?
Strong bones are less likely to break in a fall or if you drop something on a foot or toe. When bones are very weak, fragility fractures can occur. Things like coughing can cause a bone to fracture if the bone is weak enough. Strong bones also important for balance.
Weak bones are more common in women who have gone through menopause. Lowered estrogen levels play a part. This is why woman are urged to get bone density tests.
How the Test Works
Bone density tests are quick and easy. The screening works like an x-ray and is done on bones that are more likely to fracture, such as the lower spine, forearm, or femur near the hip joint.
You usually do not have to do much before a bone density test. Your doctor may ask your mom to avoid taking any supplements containing calcium for at least one day before the test. If your mom has had a barium or contrast dye scan recently, your mom’s doctor needs to be informed.
What Happens if Low Bone Density is Discovered
There are three possible T-scores. A negative 1 or better is normal. A negative 1 to negative 2.5 means your mom has thinning bones, but osteoporosis is not present yet. A negative 2.5 or lower indicates osteoporosis is already likely.
If bone thinning is possible, your mom’s doctor may suggest she takes prescription medication. If she doesn’t yet have osteoporosis, she may be able to prevent osteoporosis by making some dietary changes. If she has osteoporosis, she will likely have to take a medication to improve bone density.
Osteoporosis is not something to ignore. It increases the risk of serious fractures during a fall. Make sure your mom gets the test. If she doesn’t drive, she doesn’t have to avoid the test. Caregivers can help. Elder care services include rides to and from area businesses and medical offices.
Elder care providers will drive your mom to the hospital or doctor’s office for a bone density test. The elder care aide can stay there while she is tested and drive her home. If she needs prescription medications for thinning bones, elder care providers can drive her to a pharmacy or run the errand for her. Learn more about our elder care services available to your mom by making a call.