This story originally appeared on EverydayHealth.com.
You may want to think twice about rolling your eyes the next time your grandparents tell you to sit up straight or the school nurse asks to check your child for scoliosis.
Turns out spinal shape and angle is a risk factor for nursing home admission in later life, according to a new study published in the Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences.
In the study, researchers at Toho University in Japan measured the spinal posture of more than 800 participants (58 percent female) 65 years of age and older using a computer-assisted noninvasive device for calculating the architecture of the spine.
"Spinal posture changes with age, but accumulated evidence shows that good spinal posture is important in allowing the aged to maintain independent lives," study authors stated in a press release.
They pinpointed a spinal angle called the trunk angle of inclination, which is between true vertical and a straight line from the first thoracic vertebra in the neck to the first sacral vertebra in the lower spine, as the one most likely to predict the need for help with daily activities like bathing, eating, and dressing in old age.
When seniors with the trunk angle of inclination in their spines begin to depend on others, home assistance or nursing home admission may follow, the researchers said. A followup with study participants four and a half years after they were first measured found that:
More than 15 percent were dependent on help with daily living activities. More than 7 percent had died. Participants with the most severe angle of spinal inclination were more than three times more likely to become dependent.
According to another recent study, in the journal Age and Aging, women are 40 percent more likely to be admitted to nursing homes than men, a repercussion of marrying older men who can no longer provide care at home due to age-related physical problems.
Republished with permission from EverydayHealth.com.