By Steven Watson, Ph.D.
Hip fractures in the elderly are a serious problem in most societies around the world, and can lead to long-term disability. With the aging of populations in developed countries, these injuries will, undoubtedly, became a bigger issue. However, they are preventable if proper precautions are taken.
Here are some interesting facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that highlight the importance of hip fractures in the elderly.
• The Size of the Problem - The CDC reports that there were 316K hospital admissions for hip fractures in people age 65 and older in 2006, an increase of 7% from the previous year. In addition, 90+% of these injuries are the result of falls and it is estimated that by 2040, the number will exceed 500K.
• Injury Outcomes - According to the CDC, fall deaths are often caused by complications from hip fractures with 1 of every 5 patients dying within 1 year after falling. Equally disturbing, up to 1 in 4 older adults who lived independently prior to their injury are placed in a nursing home after their injury.
• Populations Most at Risk - The chances of hip fractures increase exponentially with age with people 85 and older being 10-15 times more likely to sustain the injury than those 60-65 years of age. Also, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, people with that condition are much more likely to sustain a hip fracture.
• Prevent These Injuries by Preventing Falls - According to the CDC, falls can best be prevented through exercises that maintain or increase leg strength and balance such as an age-appropriate weight program and Tai Chi. In addition, prescription and over-the-counter medications should be checked regularly by a physician to minimize drug interactions that can cause dizziness or drowsiness. Another recommendation is to do a home safety assessment to reduce tripping hazards and ensure that safety bars and railings are in place. Screenings for osteoporosis should be completed regularly and foods or dietary supplements that contain calcium and vitamin D should be encouraged.
It's clear that hip fractures in the elderly are a very real problem and efforts need to be undertaken to protect seniors from the falls that often cause them. If you want to learn more about hip fractures and related issues, here is a CDC-sponsored site you can access at http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Falls/adulthipfx.html.
Find out how you can help elderly family members or friends avoid hip fractures by remaining active and healthy through this informative web site at http://www.keepseniorsactive.com.
Steven Watson, PhD has been a small business owner for over 10 years and a manager for 18 years. He previously owned a home health agency that specialized in elderly clients and currently owns a copywriting and resume company in the Tallahassee, FL area. Steven has an 86-year old mother and has a special interest in informing others about how to keep elderly parents or friends safe and healthy.
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