Elderly women who are satisfied with their lives have a higher bone density and they suffer from osteoporosis less frequently than their unsatisfied peers, says a study. “Promoting good life satisfaction and good spirits in the elderly is as important as promoting healthy lifestyle choices,” said the authors from University of Eastern Finland. Osteoporosis is a common disease which easily leads to bone fracture and hip fractures.
Bone density gets lower as people age, however, for women, the menopause constitutes a significant risk factor. Long-term stress associated with depression can have detrimental effects on metabolism and, in consequence, on bone health, the researchers explained. The health behaviour of a depressed person may also increase the risk of osteoporosis, as the person might smoke or exercise too little.
The study included 2,167 women who underwent bone density measurements in 1999, and out of these women, 1,147 took part in follow-up measurements ten years later, in 2009. Life satisfaction was assessed by four questions relating to the study participants’ interest in and easiness of life, happiness, and loneliness. During the 10-year follow-up, the bone density of all study participants weakened by an average of four percent, however, the difference between the satisfied and the unsatisfied was as much as 52 percent.
Changes in life satisfaction during the 10-year follow-up also affected bone density. In persons whose life satisfaction deteriorated, the bone density weakened by 85 percent in comparison to persons whose life satisfaction improved.