Only 22% of females over 55 consider osteoporosis a current risk.
Ahead of World Osteoporosis Day (20th October 2018), Australian women are being urged by experts to consider the warning signs and be aware of the risk of osteoporosis for all over 55s.
According to new global research, most Australian women (70 per cent aged 55-64) have not talked to their doctor about osteoporosis and only about one in five (22 per cent) consider it a risk for themselves. Half of Australian women aged 55 and over were surprised to learn that worldwide, one in three women over 50 years will experience a fracture caused by osteoporosis.
Australian women are more independent than their global peers and are very active both socially and physically, with women aged 65 and over spending an average of two extra hours each week engaged in physical activity compared to their global peers (5.8 hrs. vs. 3.9). Australian women also value their independence and ability to perform daily tasks on their own and are particularly concerned about losing their mobility as they age (93 per cent). They also value their ability to complete simple tasks such as to dress or undress themselves or go to the supermarket on their own² compared to their global peers.
On the surface, Australian women have a good understanding of osteoporosis with 17 per cent more likely to be able to correctly define osteoporosis than their global counterparts and encouragingly, about half of Australian women surveyed are aware of the bone mineral density test.
However, when it comes to assessing their own risk, more education is required. Fewer than a quarter of Australian women surveyed could correctly identify ethnicity, body type or having a previous fracture as risk factors.
"It's encouraging to see Australian women are doing better than their global peers when it comes to looking after their health and wellbeing by being physically active, and clearly an awareness of osteoporosis already exists," says Prof Markus Seibel of the University of Sydney. "However, it is concerning that Australian women don't correlate that awareness with their own personal risk. There is opportunity to build on the basic knowledge of osteoporosis to correct misunderstandings and encourage accurate risk assessment."
To help increase understanding of osteoporosis, a new online narrative has been created to help raise awareness and understanding of the disease. Osteoporosis Xplained (www.opxplained.com.au) has been developed to translate complicated 'doctor speak' into interesting and engaging language so everyone can have access to medical information they can understand. The resource has been developed in collaboration with both patients and healthcare specialists, including specialist doctors. It uses a real patient case study to explain disease risk factors, side effects of treatment and the importance of management.
Jane, aged 58, is the real-life inspiration for the main character in Osteoporosis Xplained. Previously living an active and healthy lifestyle, at age 50, Jane suffered a fracture which led doctors to discover Jane's bones were weakened, leading to a diagnosis of osteoporosis.
"A new diagnosis is difficult to accept and the more information you can get your hands on, the better," says Jane, who lives in Carnegie in Melbourne. "When I was diagnosed, I knew little about osteoporosis or what would be the best and most effective way to treat it. I started on one medicine which wasn't for me and it's taken me a long time to find a treatment that works.
At the time of my accident I was in the middle of doing a nursing degree, which I was unable to finish. It was nine months before I could drive again so my independence was very restricted and I had to rely on other people to help me with most daily activities for some time as I could only use one arm."
Women can be at risk of osteoporosis from a much younger age than they may believe. They need to be aware of the risk factors associated with osteoporosis and recognise the signs that might indicate symptoms of weakened bones. Osteoporosis Xplained provides information in a way that is easy to understand and highlights the importance of speaking with a GP to have an informed discussion about bone health.
For more information about osteoporosis and bone health, visit: www.opxplained.com.au