As we discussed in our last post, hip fractures can be devastating for older adults. Research reveals that one in three adults over age 50 who suffer a hip fracture will die within 12 months of the injury. In addition, older adults with hip fractures face a greatly increased risk of death for a decade after the injury. Knowing this, seniors and their caretakers should do everything they can to prevent these injuries before they occur.
A good starting point for our prevention efforts is to understand who is most at risk for suffering these injuries. Thanks to years of data, doctors and researchers have identified several common risk factors for hip fractures. They include:
- Age: Older people face a higher risk of hip fracture due to decreased bone density and the mobility difficulties that come with age.
- Sex: Women suffer roughly 70% of hip fractures because they lose bone density faster than men — especially as they get older.
- Chronic Medical Conditions: Endocrine and intestinal disorders can impede absorption of calcium and vitamin D, which may lead to bone loss. Other medical conditions cause dizziness which increases the risk of falling.
- Certain Medications: Some medications like prednisone can weaken bones if they’re taken for too long. Drugs that act on the central nervous system — like sleep medications and sedatives — are also associated with a greater risk of falls.
- Physical Inactivity: Older adults who don’t participate in weight-bearing exercises like walking are at a greater risk of falling.
- Tobacco and Alcohol Use: Frequent use of both substances can interfere with normal bone building.
It’s possible for individuals to have multiple risk factors at the same time, which makes it more likely they’ll suffer a fracture at some point. So now that we understand the risk, what can we do to prevent these injuries in the first place?
According to the CDC, 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. So if you or someone you love is at risk for a hip fracture, it would be wise to work towards preventing a fall. Here are important steps to take:
- Get Plenty of Exercise: Not only will your cardiovascular health improve with regular exercise, you’ll also develop stronger bones and preserve your sense of balance. These are critical factors in preventing falls or avoiding serious injury should you fall.
- Check Your Eyes: Our eyesight gets worse as we age, especially if you suffer from diabetes or glaucoma. But if you can’t see well, you may also miss potential tripping hazards that may lie in your way.
- Monitor Medications: Another common by-product of aging is medication consumption. But it’s possible that some medications may not interact well with others, which could cause dizziness or disorientation. In fact, the more medications you take simultaneously, the greater your risk for a fall. So be sure to talk with your doctor about your prescriptions and track how they effect you.
- Stand Up Slowly: Blood pressure problems are also common for older people. As a result, you may become light-headed by standing up too quickly, which could cause you to lose your balance and fall.
- Assess Your Home for Hazards: Poor lighting, loose rugs, and errant furniture are all huge trip-and-fall risks. It may also be helpful to install grab bars and shower seats in the bathroom as well, to mitigate your risk.
- Use a Walker or Walking Stick: You can also get a little added stability by using a walker or walking stick while you move around.
In-Home Care May Help
When older people fall, they’re often doing ordinary tasks like household chores, getting dressed, or moving from room to room. They don’t have someone at their home everyday to help them with those chores or to make sure they can move around unencumbered. This is where in-home care can help. Qualified caregivers can do the everyday chores that might now be difficult for older people. What’s more, they can also monitor older adults to ensure they’re living in a safe environment. Employing a caregiver for as little as a few hours every week, could greatly reduce the risk of a fall and the possibility of a devastating hip fracture.
If you live in Arizona and would like to learn more about caregiving, we’d love to talk. Generations Home Care exists to help seniors and other vulnerable groups live fuller, more independent lives. Keeping them healthy and injury-free is our first priority.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care offers personalized in-home care and support services to those recovering from illness, injury or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier and independent life.
Generations Home Care offers levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. We take a holistic approach and emphasize a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term postoperative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.