Article Text

  1. S. A. Murphy1
  1. 1University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA.


Purpose Osteoporosis rates are high in the elderly. It is estimated that 13 to 18% of women and 3 to 5% of men over 50 years old have osteoporosis. Seward, Alaska, has a population of 300 elders and an active senior center. The Seward Senior Center has daily lunches and occasional speakers on community- and health-related issues. A community project on diet and exercise for osteoporosis prevention was designed for one of these lunches.

Methods Community members were interviewed about their awareness of osteoporosis prevention in the elderly, including physicians, nursing home staff, the mayor, the director of the senior center, and area seniors. A literature search on the efficacy of diet and exercise on osteoporosis prevention was carried out using PubMed and reviewed. A presentation was prepared and given during a lunch at the Seward Senior Center. The presentation included a talk about calcium and vitamin D intake, exercise and fall prevention, and handouts on bone density scanning and prevention of osteoporosis. Examples of calcium supplementation were provided. PowerPoint slides were prepared that showed examples of osteoporotic versus average bone matrix. A question and answer session with the seniors was held.

Summary Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, identifying foods high in calcium, walking to increase strength and balance for fall prevention, and weight-bearing exercise were recognized as focus areas. A pamphlet in the form of a refrigerator magnet was prepared and distributed to the members of the senior center addressing these issues. Raising awareness among the elders in Seward about diet and exercise is a step toward decreasing osteoporotic rates in the future.

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