People are who still married in their later years are less likely to suffer broken bones, new research suggests.
Doctors at the University of Zaragoza in north-eastern Spain analysed the medical and psychiatric records of nearly 5,000 older local people, finding a clear link between marital status and their chance of fracturing a hip. Elderly married men were 50 per cent less likely to suffer this common but serious hazard and older married women 30 per cent less likely.
Other factors linked to a higher risk of fractures included depression – which increased the risk in women by as much as 44 per cent, and disability, which tripled the risk in men.
Commenting on the study, a Swiss geriatrics specialist, Dr Heike Bischoff-Ferrari, said the company of a spouse could encourage older people to remain active and eat properly, and also help them to avoid depression, thereby decreasing their chances of becoming physically frail.
She urged older people to ensure they ate a balanced diet high in calcium and protein, to maintain strong muscles and healthy bones.
The doctor explained:
“Disability also has a direct effect on bone and muscle health as disability reduces mobility – and thereby loss of both bone and muscle mass is the consequence – enhancing the risk of falls.”
Photo of Zaragoza by Paulo Brandao via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence