People with dementia take fewer osteoporosis medications

Research conducted at the Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm University in Sweden indicates that aging adults with dementia may be undertreated for osteoporosis and experience more fractures caused by the bone disease.

A study published in the journal Osteoporosis International determined that individuals with senile dementia are less than half as likely to take basic osteoporosis medications, including vitamin supplements, as their mentally healthy peers.

More than 3,300 adults between the ages of 65 and 100 participated in the research, which was part of the Swedish National Study on Aging and Care. In all, 12 percent of osteoporotic adults without dementia took vitamin D, calcium, bisphosphonates or raloxifene.

By contrast, just 5 percent of those with any level of cognitive decline took medications to treat or prevent bone loss.

Similarly, participants with both osteoporosis and dementia were nearly four times as likely as their mentally lucid peers to have suffered a fracture in the previous four years.

One-quarter of participants with dementia experienced a fracture in that time period, compared to 7 percent of those without any mental decline.

After controlling for age and gender, the team concluded that osteoporotic adults were two and a half times more likely to suffer a broken bone if they had dementia, and four times more likely if they lived in an assisted-care institution.

Up to 6.8 million Americans suffer from some form of age-related cognitive decline, with nearly 2 million being severely affected, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that individuals with Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of degenerative dementia, may benefit from consuming cold-water fish for its omega-3 fatty acid content - or, in lieu of seafood, regular supplements of the nutrient. Recent scientific findings indicate that omega-3s may also help maintain bone health and slow the onset of osteoporosis.

The connections between dementia, age-related lifestyle changes and osteoporosis are intricate. According to the NIH, vitamin deficiency - a widespread risk factor for osteoporosis - may increase the severity of Alzheimer's disease. Likewise, falls and broken bones are common complications of mental decline, the organization states.
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