As many as 300,000 people, over the age of 65, experience a hip fracture each year. Without the once-strong bones, this can be a life-changing experience for most.

Why a Hip Fracture is so Threatening

According to the International Osteoporosis Foundation, less than 50% of those who suffer a fractured hip are ever able to regain their previous way of life. Decreased hip function takes away independent walking from an estimated 40% of those afflicted. Over 60% require aid with simple movements less than a year after the occurrence. This means that a large portion of seniors suffering from a hip fracture have to become dependent on constant care, like a nursing home.

What Causes Susceptibility to a Hip Fracture?

There are several reasons why hip bones are susceptible to fracture. These may include:

• Weakening from normal aging
• Blunt trauma
• Long-term obesity
• Disease like Osteoporosis

As one grows older, the density and strength in these bones begin to diminish. Add to this poor eyesight and poor balance and you have the making of a fall on a hard surface. Or something as simple as riding in a car can result in a hip fracture if you are involved in an accident that has heavy jarring. People that are overweight may experience weakness in hips, back and legs due to the constant pressure put upon them. And then there is Osteoporosis, the silent disease. You can have osteoporosis without even knowing it until a break occurs. The only way to be sure is by having a bone mineral density test performed by your physician.

Complications

Having strong bones in your younger years makes surgery to repair a broken hip easy enough. However, when age has debilitated this area, surgery is often not an option. There are certain risks that are attached to performing surgery. These can include:

• Unhealthy bones surrounding the break
• Blood clots that can form and travel
• Developing infection at the incision

It is up to the physician as to whether the physical condition, age of patient and severity of the break is worth the risk of trying to repair a hip fracture. The patient has to be strong enough to withstand general anesthesia or spinal anesthesia and the bones must be strong enough to support a metal plate and screws. If the patient is not well enough to endure a surgery procedure, they are forced to be confined to a chair or bed.

Without the ability to have a hip surgically repaired, there are many life-threatening medical issues that can develop. When there is a fracture in the hip, inflammation sets in. This creates good conditions for blood clots to form. In addition, being bed-fast increases muscle breakdown. It has also been noted that blood pressure can increase and cause heart disease to develop.

There are life-threatening medical issues that can transpire for the elderly regardless of hip fracture surgery or not. The most common of problems is the worsening of existing medical problems, new medical symptoms forming from inactivity and debilitating pain. Once a hip fracture occurs, an elderly patient is 6 times more likely to die in the hospital from the development of post-surgery complications, like a stroke, heart attack, or blood infection.

Getting Help for the Elderly

It takes a good rehabilitation program to help an elderly patient to recover from hip fractures. While a hospital can perform certain procedures, a specialized rehabilitation program is essential. Reducing pain and swelling is the first step in gaining back your freedom. The next step is increasing mobility and flexibility, followed by strengthening. It is often difficult to receive the personal treatment needed at a nursing home due to the numerous duties that they are required to perform. Be prepared by seeking the best, such as Sauk Prairie Physical Therapy located in Sauk City, Wisconsin. Their team of dedicated nurses and nursing assistants are available 24 hours a day to assist you and support you on the road to recovery.

Sources:

Hip Fractures Older Adults Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016, September) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adulthipfx.html

Facts and Statistics, Hip Fracture, IOF, International Osteoporosis Foundation (2017) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://www.iofbonehealth.org/facts-statistics#category-16

Osteoporosis, Medline Plus, US National Library of Medicine (2017, November) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://medlineplus.gov/osteoporosis.html

Hip-Fracture Surgery Risk Not Just Due to Age, Newsmax Health (2015, September) Retrieved January 3, 2018, from https://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/hip-fracture-surgery-risk/2015/09/15/id/691715/

For seniors, slipping and falling can be the cause of numerous injuries.  Commonly, a slip and fall can be the cause of broken bones, head injuries, sprains/strains or painful bruising.  Ideally, the best way to approach this issue is to try to prevent the falls in the fist place.

walking seniorsAlthough anyone, at any age, can slip and fall, it becomes more common as we get older.  Balance issues, dizziness, and weakness of muscles are quite common in seniors and this provides the right mix to increase the chances of falling and and potentially injuring themselves.

Often, the fall may cause injury, but it becomes the secondary issues due to the fall that rises up and becomes the major health problem.  Due to increased chances of weakening bone structure in the senior population, a fracture can certainly occur upon falling.  If the fracture causes reduced mobility, such as in a hip fracture, the individual can suffer from longer term effects such as chronic pain, reduced lung function and weakening of the musculature.

For these reasons, it is extremely important that steps are taken to try to limit the possibilities of falls. Whether you are a senior yourself or are the loved one of a senior, actions can be taken right now to help to prevent unnecessary falls.

During Winter – Watch For Ice

During the winter time, it is important to watch for ice buildup on steps and sidewalks.  Gutters that drip can often be the cause of ice buildup and should be repaired.  Sand or salt could also be applied.  Someone should be dedicated to making certain that all sidewalks are clear from snow and ice.

Proper Handrails

Properly installed handrails can make a considerable difference for those who have difficulty with balance.  By securing handrails at the proper height in the proper areas, this can prevent falls.

Use a Cane or Walker

For those that have difficulty walking, it is often necessary to use a cane or a walker.  These can be used for stabilizing the person while they are moving.  Some are resistant to using a walking aid, but it may be time to have a discussion if that is the case.

Bathroom Aids

Installing bathroom aids like grab bars in the shower area can be a great benefit.  These wet surfaces can be the perfect place for a slip and fall and any aid that can help to assist the person with standing or walking is a good thing.

Watch the Floors

Keep the floors clean of any objects that may cause a fall.  Straighten rugs and remove any objects that may get in the way and cause a loss of balance and a fall.

It is important to stay safe and prevent slips and falls at any age.  But, it is even more important to take steps to prevent those that are especially at risk for falling.