The older senior is at high risk for osteoporosis. It is important for healthcare providers to be fully aware of the potential risks and benefits of diagnosing and treating osteoporosis in the older senior population. Data indicate that bone mineral density testing is under-utilized and drug therapy is often not initiated when indicated in this population. Bone mineral density testing with central dual energy x-ray absorptiometry is essential and cost-effective in this population. All older seniors should be educated on a bone-healthy lifestyle including age-appropriate weight-bearing exercise and smoking cessation if necessary. It is important to remember that falls play a very important role in the risk for osteoporotic fractures, especially in the older senior. All older seniors should be evaluated annually for falls and strategies should be implemented to reduce fall risk in this population. The risk for vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency is high in the older senior and can contribute to falls and fractures. Adequate intakes of calcium and vitamin D are important and deficiencies need to be treated. Data on osteoporosis drug therapy in the older senior are lacking. Based on data from subgroup analyses of large osteoporosis trials in postmenopausal women, current osteoporosis therapies appear safe and efficacious in the older senior and most will live long enough to derive a benefit from these therapies. Further studies are needed in older seniors, especially men, to better understand the risks and benefits of pharmacologic therapy for the management of osteoporosis.
Keywords: aged; diphosphonates; eighty and over; elderly; osteoporosis; senior.