The Duchess of Cornwall has spoken openly about the “agoinising” ordeal of watching her loved ones die from the bone disease osteoporosis – and urges others to look after their bone health while they still can.
Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones gradually weaken and break, and is unfotunately part of the ageing process. Camilla, who has been president of the National Osteoporosis Society since the early 90s, has long been an advocate of discussing the importance of bone health, given her tragic experience with her beloved mother and grandmother.
As a young woman, she describes being “blissfully unaware” of the potentially devastating effects of osteoporosis.
But, she describes how her mother’s and grandmother’s experience with the disease brought the reality of it into sharp focus.
Speaking about how they began to deteriorate during their illness, she said, “Sadly, as I grew older, I learned a great deal more about osteoporosis at first hand, as I watched both my mother and grandmother suffer the pain and ignominy of this agonising disease,”
She also details the horrifying experience of watching how her mother “shrank”, as she approached her final 72nd birthday, before passing away.
Previously, Prince Charles’ wife has described how “my family and I watched in horror as my mother quite literally shrank in front of our eyes.
(The Duchess at a recent event for osteoporosis)
“I believe that the quality of her life became so dismal, and her suffering so unbearable, that she just gave up the fight and lost the will to live.”
Her mother, Rosalind Shand, then passed away in 1994, while her grandmother Sonia Keppel had passed away eight years earlier in 1986.
But the Duchess has now spoken about how important it is to take care of your bones in order to avoid the illness – particularly in your 20s. In fact, Camilla revealed that it is in fact difficult to change bone strength once in your 30s. Speaking about the lessons she’s learnt, she said, “So what message would I send to my younger self, now that I have learned so much more about it?
“Eat a healthy diet with plenty of calcium and Vitamin D, and take plenty of exercise, both are crucial for strong and healthy bones.”
The NHS states that bones are in their thickest and strongest in your 20s, but that bone density gradually decreases from the age of 35.
So while it’s best to work on bone strength in your 20s, and despite that fact that you can’t necessarily improve it past that decade, there are steps you can take to ensure that you maintain what strength you do have, to prevent osteoporosis.
Weight-bearing exercises and resistance exercises are a good option for maintaining bone strength, whilst aerobic exercise can also be useful in in order to strengthening the surrounding muscles. These are the symptoms of osteoporosis to look out for.