When adults aged 50 years and older suffer a hip fracture, their risk of death increases anywhere between 5.75 percent to 7.95 times in the following three months! Those who survive the injury often continue to have trouble moving around and taking care of themselves, and may require placement in a nursing home.
The risk of having a hip fracture increases with age. As people grow older, their bones become weaker and can break more easily. Therefore, an older adult can sustain a serious fracture with a relatively minor trauma, such as a fall at home. Vision worsens with age, so older adults have more difficulty navigating their environment. Balance worsens with age, so older adults have more difficulty reacting to uneven surfaces or tripping hazards.
In addition, older adults are often taking many prescription medications to address multiple medical conditions. These medications may have been prescribed by several different doctors. Sometimes these medications have side effects that make people feel dizzy or drowsy, and some of these medications can be more dangerous that normal when used in combination with one another.
You can take action to decrease the risk of hip fracture for yourself or an older loved one.
1. START AN EXERCISE PROGRAM
Weight-bearing and muscle strengthening exercises improve bone density and strength. Lower body strengthening, core strengthening and balance training exercises help to reduce the risk of falling. Talk to your doctor about seeing a physical therapist for an individualized treatment program.
2. TAKE A CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENT
Both Calcium and Vitamin D supplementation increase bone strength, but only Vitamin D is linked to a decreased risk of falling. Talk to your doctor to determine whether these supplements are right for you.
3. TAKE THE “BROWN BAG” TEST
Gather all of the medications that you take into a paper bag, including all the prescription medications from all of your healthcare providers, as well as over-the-counter medications. Take the bag of medications (or a list of all medications) to your primary care doctor. Have your doctor review the medications for side effects that may increase your risk of falling and possible dangerous combinations.
4. GET REGULAR VISION CHECK-UPS
Have your vision tested regularly so that glasses or contacts are at the appropriate strength and other vision problems, such as cataracts, can be addressed.
5. MODIFY YOUR HOME ENVIRONMENT
Make sure that all of the areas of your home have a walking path that is free from tripping hazards and are all well lit. Keep frequently used items in cabinets that are easy to reach.