According to the CDC, over 300,000 Americans each year aged 65+ are hospitalized after suffering a hip fracture. For many, the road to recovery is a long and stressful process that often requires time spent in a long-term care facility. Sadly, some aging-in-place hip fracture victims lose their independence permanently as a result, while others eventually die from fracture-related complications. As a concerned family member, ensuring a brighter future for your aging loved one starts by taking these hip fracture prevention steps.
Why Are the Elderly at Higher Risk?
Roughly 95% of hip fractures in the elderly are the direct result of falling, usually by falling sideways. Older women experience three-quarters of all hip fractures in the US, while the odds of someone breaking their hip increase each year once they reach age 50.
Factors that put seniors at higher risk for a hip fracture include:
- Diminished core muscle strength
- Vision changes
- Low bone density
- Changes to balance and coordination
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Being diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s
Hip Fracture Prevention Tips for Seniors
Ways to reduce your aging loved one’s likelihood to experience a hip fracture include:
Build strong muscles
Low-impact workouts that maintain muscle strength, endurance, and balance will lower your senior’s risk for trips, tumbles, and slips that break bones. Research studies have determined that a regular exercise routine can dramatically reduce an elderly participant’s risk of falling. Encourage your senior to work out for at least 20 minutes 3 to 5X per week.
Maintain bone strength
Low bone density doubles or even triples one’s hip fracture risk. Experts recommend bone density screenings for all women age 65+, while men over age 70 should also get tested. Screening for osteoporosis allows seniors and their doctors to make informed treatment decisions that keep bones healthy and fracture-free.
Eat bone-healthy foods
Malnourished seniors are also at higher risk for bone fractures. Women under age 50 and men under 70 should take in 1,000 mg of calcium each day, and then 1,200 mg of calcium after that. Vitamin D is also needed by the body to absorb calcium, with recommendations for 600 IU per day up to age 70 and 800 IU for those 70+. A bone-healthy diet for older adults should also include plenty of nutrient-rich foods, like fruits and veggies, daily.
Check their eyes and medications
Some prescription drugs can cause fall-inducing side effects. If your senior feel drowsy, dizzy, weak, or off-balance when walking, ask their doctor to perform a medication check. Sit in on the doctor’s visit with a list of all your loved one’s medications and any symptoms they are experiencing. Also, be sure that your senior is up to date with their vision checks and eyeglass prescriptions.
Fall-proof the home
Since most fracture-causing falls occur in the primary residence, reduce your loved one’s risk of falling by taking these home modification steps:
- Keep floors, walkways, and stairs clutter-free.
- Remove throw rugs and dangerous electrical cords.
- Place nonslip mats in the tub and on the bathroom floor.
- Add grab bars in the tub or shower and handrails on the stairs.
- Ensure that all hallways and stairs are well-lit.
- Keep small pets and pet supplies out of walkways.
Wearing high heels, ill-fitting shoes, or shoes with extremely thick rubber soles can also increase a senior’s fall risk. In addition to fall-proofing the home, find your senior a pair of well-fitting shoes with nonslip soles that will improve safety even when walking on wet surfaces.
An Extended Family in Your Loved One’s Home
Helping your aging loved one prevent hip fractures can be challenging when you can’t always be there. At New Wave Home Care, we’ve been helping families in Southern California keep aging loved ones safe and comfortable in their own homes for 10+ years now. As a licensed home care provider, we support clients and their families with personalized in-home solutions like personal care, transitional care, respite care, dementia and Alzheimer’s care, and hospice support.
When you choose New Wave Home Care in Pasadena, you can rest assured that your loved one is getting the specialized care they need from a trusted, friendly caregiver. To learn more now or schedule a FREE in-home assessment for a senior in the greater Los Angeles area, please visit us at www.newwavehomecare.com.