A fractured hip in an older adult is not just any broken bone. Hip fractures can result in permanent disability, loss of independence, and even death. Almost all hip fractures in older adults happen because of falls, and most falls occur within the home.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can greatly reduce the risk of falls and hip fractures. The best treatment is preventing fall hazards in the home, along with education about bone health. The following tips can help reduce the risk of you or your loved one being affected by a hip fracture:
- Get screened for osteoporosis. This progressive condition can weaken bones, making them much more likely to break. A bone densitometry test should be done as recommended by your physician, and you may be advised to take daily calcium and Vitamin D supplements. In some cases, your physician may recommend medication to strengthen your bones.
- Know your medications and side effects. Older adults often take one or more medications daily, but aren’t aware of all the potential side effects. Certain medications can cause dizziness or drowsiness, increasing the risk for a fall. Talk with your physician and your pharmacist about any side effects that might put you at risk.
- Get exercise daily. Regular physical activity such as walking helps keep bones strong. Talk with your physician about the best activities for you.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking weakens bones and is detrimental to your entire body’s health. There are free resources available to help you quit.
- Limit alcohol intake. Heavy drinking can affect your bone strength over time, and can make you more likely to trip and fall.
- See your physician annually or as recommended for routine health screenings. A vision test, blood pressure check, and general health exam are all necessary to ensure you don’t have hidden risk factors for falls and fractures.
- Prevent falls in the home by keeping clutter off the floor, removing throw rugs, installing grab bars in showers and tubs, and using non-slip mats in the bathtub. Make sure you wear slippers with proper grip on the bottom, have adequate lighting in each room, and do not run electrical cords across the floor. You should also have proper handrails on all stairs. Use only non-slip cleaners on hard floors. Many polishes and waxes can make floors slippery and dangerous.
A fall can be devastating to an individual and family. But knowing how to prevent falls and keeping your bones healthy will greatly reduce your risk. You can lead a healthy, active life well into your older adult years if you partner with your physician for important health exams and screenings.
For more information about CarePoint Health’s comprehensive orthopedic care, please contact us.
Content on our website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 911. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your medical treatment.