Evelyn Zaklan

 Evelyn's Story:

Over eleven years ago, Evelyn Zaklan bent over to tie her shoelace and felt a crushing pain in her back. After a visit to the hospital, she learned she had suffered a compression fracture of one of her vertebrae.

 

BMD (bone mineral density) testing revealed that the 54-year-old Evelyn had osteoporosis. Suddenly a disease she had previously associated “with 80-year-olds” was front and centre in her life.

Evelyn's story is similar to the stories of countless other Canadians who have suddenly experienced a fracture related to osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bones to become thin and porous, decreasing bone strength and leading to increased risk of breaking a bone. In Canada, a 50 year old woman has a 40% chance of developing hip, vertebral or wrist fractures during her lifetime. The reduced quality of life for the two million men and women with osteoporosis is enormous. 

Hip fractures related to osteoporosis are a serious problem in older individuals. In 2009 approximately 27,000 Canadians were impacted with a hip fracture of which about 70% are related to osteoporosis. Unfortunately hip fractures related to osteoporosis result in death in up to 30% of cases - sometimes this can be as early as within one year of a hip fracture. A study recently reported that only 44% of people discharged from hospital for a hip fracture return home, of the rest, 10% go to another hospital, 27% go to rehabilitation care, and 17% go to long-term care facilities. 

Hip fractures have a very real consequence, and Osteoporosis Canada is trying to reduce fracture and re-fracture rates related to osteoporosis each year. Fewer than 38% of fracture patients in Canada currently undergo diagnosis or adequate treatment for osteoporosis. 

However, since 2007 Osteoporosis Canada, along with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, has been working in hospitals across Ontario to reduce the incidence of future hip fractures, which increase once a fragility fracture has occurred in an individual over the age of 40. A fragility fracture is a fracture resulting from a fall from standing height without being pushed. 

Even knowing that Osteoporosis can be a crippling diagnosis, Evelyn enjoyed activity too much to be stalled by fear. She started by walking to the end of her driveway, and each day progressed one house further down her street – mindful of her limitations, but resolved to challenge them.

Having just completed another intensive hiking trip to Ireland, Evelyn’s “one house a day” strategy has blossomed into an active lifestyle that encompasses tennis, cross-country skiing, triathlons, and even speed-walking in the B.C. Senior Games!

As a member of the Surrey/White Rock Chapter of Osteoporosis Canada, Evelyn offers her wisdom to others as a “Step Safe” lecturer. Having lived for many years with colitis, Evelyn also encourages her local colitis support group to take good care of their bones, and to speak with their doctor about the risk factors for osteoporosis. Medical conditions such as colitis, Crohn’s and celiac disease that inhibit the absorption of nutrients are a risk factor for osteoporosis because of the impact on absorption of key nutrients needed to maintain healthy bones.

With such an active journey towards well-being, Evelyn’s two words of advice should not come as a surprise: “Keep moving!”

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