Sixth Annual Bone Health Fair

Sixth Annual Bone Health Fair

By: Gurjiwan Dhaliwal

On October 10th, 2018, the Bone Health Initiative headed to Lake Merritt Independent Senior Living to help with the Sixth Annual Bone Health Fair hosted by American Bone Health. The event took place at The Terrace Room, a restaurant connected with the senior home. My fellow BHI peer educators Buddhika Ratnasiri and Emily Chen and I helped with the main event: The Calcium Challenge, aimed at helping seniors learn the correct foods to eat every day to meet their daily calcium requirement.  Afterwards, we took our seats to listen in with the rest of the attendees to Dr. Aaron Pardini, an endocrinologist from Highland Hospital, talk about diagnosing and treating osteoporosis.

Peer Educator Buddhika Ratnasiri helping a senior during the Calcium Challenge

As soon as we got there, we jumped into helping the seniors to complete the Calcium Challenge. The goal of the challenge was to build a daily diet across three meals to meet the daily calcium requirement. Elders require 1,200 mg of calcium daily, so the seniors had no problem building up a meal to meet their requirement. But, as my fellow educators and I went around, we explained to the elders that they can only take in a maximum of 500 mg of calcium in one meal. The room was resounding with “Oh, I didn’t know that” and “Wow, really?” Due to this limitation, many of the seniors’ meal plans fell short of the requirement. With our help, the seniors were able to complete their meal plans to properly meet their daily requirement.

Dr. Aaron Pardini presenting on osteoporosis

After the Calcium Challenge, lunch was served, and we took our seats to hear Dr. Aaron Pardini talk about the hormonal changes behind osteoporosis. Dr. Pardini is an endocrinologist at Highland Hospital and the Director of the Diabetes Clinic at Highland Hospital. He described some of the problems surrounding the diagnosis of osteoporosis. Too often the diagnosis of osteoporosis comes with a new fracture, and, as a result, the fracture will be difficult to heal and will severely detriment the patient’s health. He recommends for more screening and preventative treatment before onset to detect osteoporosis before a potential fracture and prevent the development of osteoporosis.

He went on to talk about certain risk factors for osteoporosis, including age, gender, medications, and diet. He emphasized that people need to improve their diets and take in more calcium and vitamin D, referencing the Calcium Challenge the attendees had just completed. He explained his dissatisfaction with calcium and vitamin supplements: “People should first try improving their diets, not just take supplements, to see better long-term results.” Changing diet is a far more effective strategy for improving bone health than taking supplements that the body will usually not efficiently use. Supplements should only be considered after diet changes do not adequately improve condition.

Wrapping up the Bone Health Fair

The Sixth Annual Bone Health Fair was a fantastic opportunity to teach seniors the correct diet choices to improve their bone health and hear from a medical professional about osteoporosis. My fellow educators and I enjoyed our time and look forward to the next Bone Health Fair.





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