Seniors fear hip fractures more than any other health problem. One small slip can mean loss of mobility and independence. Or worse: some studies have found that someone who breaks a hip may be 2 to 5 times more likely to die within 1 year than someone without a fracture. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help prevent senior hip fractures. Options range from lifestyle changes to simply rearranging the furniture.
Health Issues That Contribute to Senior Hip Fractures
Say the word “osteoporosis,” and people immediately think of older women because they’re far more likely to be diagnosed. However, 1 in 5 men over 50 will have at least one fracture. That’s more men than will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, but the danger of male osteoporosis gets far less attention.
Osteoporosis is treatable, but the best treatment is avoiding it in the first place. Unfortunately, there are no early symptoms. Many people discover they have brittle bones when a minor fall or stumble results in a serious fracture. Be alert to habits and medical conditions make both men and women more likely to develop the condition.
- Lifestyle factors include heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise, and poor diet.
- Eating disorders in early life, including bulimia and anorexia.
- Chronic medical conditions that require long-term steroid use.
- Hormone levels. Post-menopausal women and men with low testosterone are more likely to develop osteoporosis.
- Body type and genetics. Women with small frames who are of Asian or Caucasian heritage are at greater risk.
Anyone with one or more of these risk factors should consider consulting a physician for a bone density test. Do it now: before a fall.
Reduce the Risk of Falls and Hip Fractures
During the last decade, a number of new bone density drugs have hit the market. You’ve probably seen them advertised on TV – a lot! In addition, look at ways to create a healthier lifestyle and make the home environment safer.
- Exercise has many health and social benefits, and weight-bearing exercises are best for bone health. That doesn’t have to mean pumping iron at the gym. Jogging, climbing stairs, walking, and any exercise where you work against gravity is good for your bones. Find a senior-friendly gym and get started.
- Install proper lighting in the house. Older people often begin to experience vision problems. Combine that with bad lighting, and a fall is more likely. Make sure light switches are accessible and all traffic areas are well lit.
- Replace or modify floor coverings. Place skid-free rubber mats in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms – any place that might have slippery floors. Make sure rugs and carpets are tacked down to avoid slips and trips.
- Check stairs for safety. Any fall is bad, but one down the stairs could be fatal. Install non-slip stair runners and check handrails for stability.
- Place grab bars in bathrooms and consider installing walk-in showers or tubs.
- Research side effects of medicines. Many seniors take a number of medications and may experience side effects from the medicines or from drug interactions.
Be Ready to Call for Help
In spite of everything, accidents do happen. A slip in the basement or a tangle in the dog’s leash during a walk in the park are just two ordinary situations that cause senior hip fractures. What do you do when the worst happens? Get help quickly!
Bay Alarm Medical offers home medical alert solutions tailored to different needs and lifestyles.
- In-home medical alerts – both landline and cellular-based
- Mobile GPS medical alerts – the go-anywhere option.
In 2008, the British Medical Journal found that 80% of women aged 70 and over would rather die than go to a nursing home after a hip fracture. What a horrible thought! Most seniors want to stay in familiar surroundings and remain healthy and independent for as long as they can. Use these suggestions to help yourself or your loved one achieve that goal.
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