Q: Can exercise improve bone health?
A: Exercise is an important part of good bone health. Like muscle, bone is a living tissue. Regular exercise increases bone mass and makes bones stronger. Exercise also helps you maintain or improve muscle strength, coordination and balance, reducing the risk of falls and risk of fractures from falling. Tai chi is an excellent exercise for maintaining bone health because it builds strength and also improves balance. Using slow, flowing motions, tai chi targets the physical components needed to stay upright, including leg strength, reflexes, flexibility and range of motion. Consult with a member of your health care team before beginning any type of exercise program.
Q: What is a treatment summary and why is important?
A: A treatment summary, sometimes called a “shadow chart,” is a document that you create and keep in your possession. Maintaining your own records allows you and your family members to have instant access to the specifics of your cancer diagnosis and treatment. A treatment summary should include:
- Your name and date of birth
- Date of diagnosis
- Prescribed therapy/therapies, including dates started and stopped and dosages when appropriate
- Dates and types of post-diagnosis testing and the results of these tests
- Other medications and supplements you are taking
- Names, affiliations and contact information of all members of your health care team
Talk to your doctor or a member of your health care team about your intention to create a treatment summary, and ask what else they suggest be included. Take your treatment summary with you when you visit any doctor, not just your oncologist.
Q: I know that falls are a primary cause of bone fracture. Do you have tips for preventing falls?
A: Falls can be caused by many things, including illness, fatigue, dizziness or the effects of certain medications. But falls can also be caused by environmental factors that are easy to prevent. Here are tips to reduce the risk of falling in and around your home:
- Use an adhesive on the underside corners of large area rugs to keep them secured to the floor.
- Remove smaller loose rugs and mats from your home, as they can easily slip.
- Immediately repair loose floorboards and carpeting.
- Use nonslip mats in your bathtub or shower.
- Clear your walkways and stairs of anything you could trip over, such as newspapers, shoes, books, decorative items and electrical cords.
- Store items (e.g. food, cooking supplies, certain clothing) you use frequently in low, easy-to-reach places.
- Immediately clean up spills of any sort.
- Don’t walk around the house in slippers, stockings, socks or barefoot. Instead, wear flat shoes with rubber soles.
- Make sure your home is well-lighted. Turn on the lights whenever you are in or passing through a room or hallway.
- Keep a flashlight with functioning batteries next to your bed.
- Turn on your outside lights if you are going out when it’s dusk or dark.
- If your walkway or sidewalk is wet, walk on the grass.