Osteoporosis Support Groups and Resources

Osteoporosis can lead to fractures, pain, and mental health problems. Getting support to cope with the physical and emotional difficulties that come with osteoporosis can improve your quality of life.

This article will provide tips on how to live well with osteoporosis and information about the types of supports available, how to access them, and the benefits of doing so.

Senior woman talking with participants in a support group

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Living With the Effects of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis can significantly affect a person's physical, mental, and social well-being. The illness won't show signs for most people until a fracture occurs, making the diagnosis unexpected and stressful.

Physical Health

Osteoporosis causes the integrity of the bone structure to break down due to low bone mass and a breakdown of bone tissue. As bone strength weakens, the risk of fractures increases. Many people have no signs of osteoporosis until a fracture has occurred, making it a silent illness.

When the bone structure has weakened due to age or other factors, like taking glucocorticoids, fractures become the greatest physical health risk. Fractures mainly occur from falls or daily house chores and can lead to further complications like ongoing pain, disability, and even death.

Risk of Fractures

Osteoporosis causes more than 8.9 million fractures globally each year, and research estimates that around 40% of women and 30% of men will experience osteoporosis-related fractures.

Mental Health

Osteoporosis can negatively impact mental health, causing stress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, psychological stress has also been linked to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis due to the increased inflammation in the body caused by chronic stress.

An osteoporosis diagnosis can lead to anxiety and depression, and low self-image and self-esteem. People might feel a sense of helplessness and experience fear of falling and getting fractures.

Social Impact

As osteoporosis becomes more severe, people often experience feelings of isolation, separation from social activities, and a loss of independence. It may become challenging to participate in the same activities as before, and people may become more dependent on the help of loved ones and caregivers. This can lead to loneliness, helplessness, and depression.

Getting Support

Having osteoporosis can lead to low self-image, low self-esteem, loneliness, fear, loss of independence, and a loss of social roles. Coping with these factors, along with physical pain and fractures, can be difficult. Finding the right healthcare provider, working with a mental health professional, and participating in an osteoporosis support group can help.

Learn More About the Condition

Learning about osteoporosis, how it develops, and how it impacts the body is an important part of knowing how to treat symptoms and prevent the condition from worsening. There are many sources of information available online. Here are a few:

Finding the Right Healthcare Provider

Finding a healthcare provider that specializes in osteoporosis can make a big difference when seeking a diagnosis and treatment options. Your primary care physician is the best place to start when searching for a specialist. Health insurance companies can also provide a list of in-network medical professionals in your area.

The Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation also offers online medical professional search tools.

Work and Financial Support

Like any chronic illness, osteoporosis can create a financial burden. Costs associated with inpatient visits, medication, physical rehabilitation, and caregiver costs, combined with the difficulty many people have maintaining full-time work, can cause financial hardship.

There are some resources available to help with ongoing medical-related costs, such as the following:

Support for Severe Osteoporosis

Though in-patient treatment may be required after severe fractures, there are home health treatment and prevention options for managing daily health. These include both medication and non-medication options.

Home Healthcare

There are many things you can do to reduce risk at home, either before or after receiving an osteoporosis diagnosis. These include:

  • Getting enough calcium through foods or supplements as recommended by a healthcare provider
  • Getting adequate vitamin D to support calcium absorption
  • Reducing alcohol use, as excessive alcohol use can deteriorate bone density
  • Limiting caffeine
  • Getting regular exercise, with a focus on weight-bearing and muscle-strengthening exercises
  • Taking magnesium supplements if recommended by a healthcare provider
  • Eating a healthy diet high in omega-3 fatty acids

Diet and Osteoporosis

Research shows that eating a Mediterranean diet that emphasizes lean meats, vegetables, healthy fats, and fish can be better for bone health than modern Western diets.

Medication

Medications for osteoporosis, called antiresorptive agents, are meant to help prevent bone tissue from breaking down and, thus, prevent fractures. Some common medications include:

Benefits of Osteoporosis Support Groups

Osteoporosis is the most common type of bone disease. With about 10 million people in the United States living with osteoporosis, there is a wide network of people who understand the challenges that come with the illness.

Finding Support Groups Near You

Connecting with others who have or care for someone with osteoporosis provides an opportunity for connection, support, and new treatment and management ideas. Support groups are available in person in some communities as well as online.

In Person

Finding an in-person support group can provide social support, answer questions, and offer a space to share your experience. Medical and mental health professionals are often a great place to start when looking for support groups.

The Bone Health & Osteoporosis Foundation offers a support group finder to search for local groups.

Online Support Groups

If in-person support groups are not available or accessible, online support groups may be good options. Bone Talk provides an online community of support with podcasts, blogs, and a virtual support group.

Caregivers Support Groups

Providing caregiving support for loved ones with chronic illnesses like osteoporosis can come with challenges. Support groups meant for non-professional caregivers can provide a much-needed outlet and bring new ideas, resources, and connections with others. It may be easier to find general caregiver support groups rather than those specifically meant to help caregivers of those with osteoporosis. A few options include the following:

Summary

Osteoporosis is the most common kind of bone disease. Over time, it leads to increased bone fragility, causing fractures, pain, and in some cases, disability or death. Osteoporosis often affects a person's physical health, mental health, and social well-being, leading to inpatient visits, anxiety and depression, isolation, feelings of helplessness, and a loss of independence.

Finding support through home healthcare, medication, and support groups can reduce the negative impacts of osteoporosis. Information about finding support groups, financial assistance, and help for caregivers is widely available through several online resources.

A Word From Verywell

Receiving an osteoporosis diagnosis can be shocking and come with stress, worry, and many questions. It's common to feel alone and concerned about your health and level of independence. Though it can be scary, millions of people are diagnosed with osteoporosis each year, which provides an extensive network of support and many available resources to help you and your family cope. If you are experiencing anxiety, symptoms of depression, or high levels of stress, contact a mental health professional or look for a local support group.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you live a normal life with osteoporosis?

    Many people can live a normal life with osteoporosis with medication and support. It helps to connect with a healthcare provider soon after diagnosis to develop a treatment and symptom management plan.

  • What’s the life expectancy of someone with osteoporosis?

    The life expectancy of someone diagnosed with osteoporosis varies depending on the person's age and gender. Generally speaking, men around age 50 have a life expectancy of around 18.2 years, and those at 75 have a life expectancy of 7.5 years. For women, the number is 26.4 years for someone who is 50 and 13.5 years for someone who is 75.

  • Does osteoporosis qualify for disability benefits?

    An osteoporosis diagnosis does not automatically qualify someone for disability benefits. However, if the condition is severe enough to interrupt a person's ability to work, they can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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