Your Hips Won't Lie: Prevent Joint Problems From Developing During Your Golden Years

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Sometimes hip and knee problems cannot be prevented, but many times, having bad joints when you are older is a consequence of not treating them well. If you're approaching retirement, here's what you need to know about staving off the hip and knee problems that often plague the elderly. 

1. Keep your weight under control

Weight gain often comes with advancing years as activity levels decrease while food intake stays the same (or goes up). Being overweight will stress your joints, and they will not be as as resilient as you age. If you have seen the pounds creeping up over the years, begin increasing your activity level and filling half your plate with vegetables and fruits. In fact, being overweight can increase your chances of developing osteoarthritis by 4 or 5 times. 

2. Improve your flexibility.

Keeping your muscles and joints limber will really help as you age--your joints should be used and exercised. Begin a regimen of joint-friendly exercises like yoga or pilates that help improve your range of motion. You'll have fewer cracks and creaks as your joints that stabilize muscles are strengthened through peaceful, low-impact exercises. 

3. Stay on top of your calcium intake.

Many elderly people have a lower tolerance for dairy products, and if this is true for you, you need to know where else to get your calcium. Loss of bone density contributes to joint problems. Leafy green vegetables are the best source of non-dairy calcium, but you might also want to talk to your doctor about taking calcium supplements, especially if you are a woman going through menopause (the reduction of reproduction hormones contributes to loss of bone density).

4. Add resistance training to your exercise routine. 

Weight-bearing exercise really helps to prevent bone loss. If you don't have mush resistance training, your bones and joints are more likely to become brittle with age, leading to fractures and joint pain that necessitates expensive replacement surgery. 

5. Reduce hazards.

You might think it is silly, but as you age it's important to start making your house more fall-friendly. For example, having lots of throw rugs means you will have a greater tripping hazard as you become less sure footed. Before your mobility is reduced, start planning a redesign of your home to minimize risks. Try to take out as many stairs as you can, reduce changes in flooring (wood to carpet to tile), and put grab bars in the shower and railings on the staircases and walkway. 

For more information, contact a clinic like Hillcrest Nursing Center.