Falling is one the main causes of injuries among the elderly, with 95% of hip fractures caused by a fall. Each year, there are at least 300,000 seniors who are hospitalized due to hip fractures.

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Image source: Wiebrig Krakau unsplash.com

Risk Factors of Hip Fractures

There are many conditions or situations that contribute to an elderly person’s vulnerability to suffer from hip fractures.

Age

The risk of getting a hip fracture increases as you get older with falling a major source of injuries. As you age, bone density decreases making you vulnerable to breaking a bone. And, as bone density is lower, healing will take longer.

Gender

Women lose their bone density at a rapid pace compared to men. They are more prone to osteoporosis. Medical research indicates that this is due to the lower levels of estrogen that accompanies menopause and hastens bone loss. Men can also lose bone density, but it is more common among women than men.

Loss of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia

Aging is correlated with a decline in mental and thinking abilities making the elderly prone to falling.  As you get older, the attention, memory, planning and estimation all get weaker, which causes falls among the elderly.

Medication

Those who are on drug therapy are prone to falls and hip fractures because of medications that have negative effects on the body (causing dizziness or weakness). Moreover, certain medications can also decrease bone density.

Diet & Nutrition

Elderly people who lack calcium and vitamin D are more likely to suffer from hip fractures. Furthermore, those with eating disorders or who are unable to eat sufficiently are depriving the body of essential nutrients.

Lifestyle

Smoking and alcohol consumption interfere with the development of bones and deplete them.

Lack of Activity

Older people who are not active are likely to suffer from hip fractures when they fall because inactivity translates to lower bone density and weaker bones.

Dangers of Hip Fractures

The statistics of hip fractures are grim with half of victims losing their ability to function and live independently. Around a third of patients or 1 in 3 remain in a nursing facility for at least a year after the fall.

Seniors who suffer from hip fractures are treated with surgery after x-rays are taken or an MRI is performed.  The types of surgeries performed depend on the injuries. Femoral neck hip fractures are treated by removing the broken pieces so that the blood supply is not obstructed. Intertrochanteric hip fractures are treated with implants to hold the bones while the fractures heal. Joint replacement surgery may also be performed and is beneficial for the elderly as they can almost walk immediately after the operation. Rehabilitation is an important aspect.

Those who are confined to bed due to hip fractures are at serious risk for complications such as:

  • Bed sores
  • Clotting
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Confusion
  • Pneumonia

Preventing Falls

Reducing or preventing the risks of falls among seniors is possible by:

  • Fall-proofing homes – remove obstacles, install grab bars and the like.
  • Wear a good pair of shoes – traction is important to reduce slipping or sliding.
  • Adopt a healthy lifestyle – exercise and good nutrition are important
  • Check the side effects of medication – consult with a health worker about possible side effects of medication.
  • Go for regular medical check-ups – include eye tests to keep vision prescriptions up to date.

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