Are you getting shorter with age? It’s a normal thing for people to lose their height as they age. Women typically lose more height than men at ¼ to ½ an inch every 10 years after turning 50. This loss of height is due to a deterioration of the spine. As we age the disks between the vertebrae get worn down and the spine loses bone density. Although, a significant loss in height can mean that there are further health conditions, such as compression fractures or osteoporosis.
Why Do We Get Shorter?
There are numerous aspects that correlate to a loss of height in older adults, including:
- Collapsing vertebrae or compression fractures
- Compression and dehydration of the discs between the vertebrae
- Curvature of the spine
- Flattening of the arches of the feet
- Loss of bone density or osteoporosis
- Loss of muscle in the torso – contributing to a stooped posture
- Metabolic changes in the body
- Poor health
- Poor nutrition
One of the most common causes of height loss is osteoporosis. Bone density decreases faster and the body stops developing new bone with this disease. This disease goes unnoticed most of the time because it’s painless. The symptoms don’t develop until the bones have become very frail and cause painful fractures, most often in the hip, spine, and wrist. Women who lose two or more inches in two years over the age of 70 are 21% more likely to fracture a hip than women who shrink less.
How to Prevent Getting Shorter
Preventative methods can be taken to avoid getting shorter as we age. These tips can put a stop to height loss:
Get Plenty of Exercise
It’s important for the elderly to exercise at least 150 minutes of moderate to low intensity aerobic activity every week. Two or more of the days spent exercising should include muscle-strengthening exercises. Exercises with weights that make your body work against gravity strengthen your bones and muscles that support them.
Also, doing exercises that strengthen your core are a good way to maintain posture that will support the spinal column. Some of the following exercises are a great way to to strengthen your core and back:
- Crunches: Lay face up on the floor with knees bent. Begin curling the shoulders towards the pelvis. The hands can be behind or beside the neck or crossed over the chest.
- Plank: Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Lower your forearms to the floor with elbows positioned under your shoulders and your hands shoulder-width apart. Step your feet back, one at a time. Maintain a straight line from heels through the top of your head, looking down at the floor, with gaze slightly in front of your face.
Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help keep your bones strong and prevent height loss. It’s important for women over the age of 50 to consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium everyday to keep their bones strong. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so it’s beneficial for women to take 600 IU a day.
There are natural ways of obtaining these vitamins besides taking supplements. Calcium can be found in almonds, broccoli, dairy, kale, salmon, and tofu. Vitamin D can be found in foods, such as egg yolks, fortified milk, and fish. If you are unable to get the right nutrients through a healthy diet supplements are the best option. Always seek a doctor’s advice before taking supplements.
Fairmont Grand Senior Living Community
Fairmont Grand is a resident centered senior living and memory care facility in Rapid City, SD. Our goal is to create an environment where resident well-being is at the heart of everything we do.
Our wide range of services are designed to meet you or your loved one’s daily needs. We offer restaurant style dining options, a variety of physical activities, and give residents the opportunity to live as independently as possible.