Hip Fracture: Prevention
WHAT INCREASES THE RISK OF HIP FRACTURE?
As you get older, your risk of a broken hip gets higher. With aging, your bones become less dense. This weakens the bones and they are more likely to break.
Most hip fractures happen to people over 65 years old. They are more common in women than men.
Hip fractures are a serious injury. About 30% of older adults who break their hip die within a year after the fracture.
Hip fractures are usually caused by a fall. Many things increase your risk of falling as you get older:
· Your eyesight and hearing get worse.
· Reflexes tend to be slower.
· Your muscles may be weaker and your coordination may not be as good as it used to be, so it can be harder to stop a fall.
· Medical problems such as arthritis, heart disease, or low blood pressure can affect your balance.
· Medicines you are taking may cause lightheadedness or dizziness. Alcohol can also have this effect.
· You may be taking more medicines. People who take more than 4 medicines of any kind have an increased risk for falls.
You can help prevent hip fractures by making your home safer, strengthening your bones, and exercising to get stronger.
HOW CAN I MAKE MY HOME SAFER?
Most falls and injuries from falls happen in the home. Changes can be made in the home to make it safer:
· Make sure your home has good lighting.
· Don’t have loose or trailing electric cords across the floors.
· Arrange furniture so that it is not in the way when you walk around the house.
· Sometimes loose throw rugs can cause a fall. Carpet and stair treads should be tacked down firmly.
· Make sure that stairs have safety handrails on both sides.
· Use nonslip mats in the bathtub or shower.
· Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fasten securely. Avoid shoes with soles that are too slippery or too sticky, such as some crepe or rubber soles. Avoid wearing high heels and sandals with light straps.
· Avoid climbing, heavy lifting, and using step stools or ladders to reach high places. Get help when you need it.
· Sit down to pull on pants and underwear. It’s easy to trip yourself if you try to step into pants or a skirt while you are standing up.
· Also, don’t drink too much alcohol or take too much medicine that makes you sleepy. This can make it easier to lose your balance and fall.
HOW CAN I STRENGTHEN MY BONES?
Osteoporosis is a serious health condition that weakens bones and increases the risk of fractures. A diet low in calcium can increase the risk of osteoporosis. Women between age 51 and 70 should be getting 1200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day and men in the same age group should be getting 1000 milligrams (mg) per day. All adults over the age of 70 should be getting 1200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day. Adults 19 to 50 should have 1100 mg each day. Calcium is in a variety of foods, especially dairy products.
Calcium is also added as a supplement to some food products such as orange juice or soy milk. Tums and other nonprescription calcium tablets are also a good source of calcium.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium. You should have 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D every day if you are older than 70. You should get 600 IU a day if you are 70 or younger.
Ask your primary care provider about the best way for you to get the right amount of calcium and vitamin D every day.
All women and some men over the age of 65 should have a bone density test to see if they have osteoporosis. Men and woman younger than 65 may also need a bone density test if they are at a higher risk for weak bones.
Several medicines can slow bone loss and help reduce fractures. If you have osteoporosis, talk with your primary care provider about medicines to make bones stronger.
HOW WILL EXERCISE HELP?
Exercise strengthens your muscles and improves your balance and coordination. People who have good balance and coordination and strong muscles are less likely to fall. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, helps to keep bones and muscles strong. A mind-body practice called tai chi has been shown to increase lower body strength and improve balance. A good exercise goal is to get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate exercise.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Talk to your primary care provider about ways you can prevent falls. Ask about the types of exercise that might be best for you.
If you have fallen in the past year, be sure to let your primary care provider know. Your primary care provider will review your medicines and observe your walking. You may benefit from physical therapy and a home safety evaluation. Your primary care provider may refer you to a specialist who can help find the cause of falling and ways to prevent it.
Many Nova Scotia communities offer Senior Safety Programs, visit the Department of Health and Wellness for more information: