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Start > Resource centre > Articles > Brittle Bones Part 1

It's quite right - old people should try to keep young. Try to keep up old interests. Even develop some hobbies. But there's one luxury they should spare themselves: falling down. Slippery floors and rugs with ragged edges may be relatively harmless for youngsters, but should always be avoided for older people.

It's true that as we get older we fall more clumsily and frequently; but also our bones get weaker. This worsening of the bones is because of changes in the bone structure. You could take some of the struts and supports out of a bridge, and it might look just the same, and certainly no smaller.

But one would not suggest that trains could still go over it. Thinning of bones is called osteoporosis, and it can happen for other reasons than old age. It is more common in women than in men: the former most often at the time of the menopause. This unhappy weakening of our bones can also follow the regular and prolonged taking of certain drugs, especially cortisone.

Osteoporosis can cause a lot of odd symptoms. It is sometimes a cause of backache; or the patient gets a broken bone after a remarkably trivial accident. In the elderly it is generally the long thigh bone - the femur - which collapses under quite a minor strain or fall.

Teacher: Michael
Many articles taken from 'A word with the doctor', by Dr. John Windsor.


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