Senior Health

4/19/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Preventing a hip fracture is preferable to recovering from one. Of the 350,000 hip fractures that occur each year in the U.S., forty percent of those over 50 cannot walk independently a year later. One out of three who lived alone before the fracture will spend a year or more in a nursing home following it. Even more disturbing: one in four adults who fracture a hip die within a year.

Medical experts continue to learn more about the preventive steps older adults can take to find ways to prevent hip fractures. Following are six suggestions from the knowledge they have gained.

1. Be aware of the risk

At some point after the age of 50, one in three women and one in five men will sustain a fracture. Women at menopause produce less estrogen and have the majority of hip fractures. They should be getting a bone density test to measure their bones’ mineral content and thickness. The results can indicate decreased bone mass, a condition in which bones are more brittle and susceptible to breaking.

2. Stay as strong as possible

Since falls cause 90 percent of hip fractures, exercises that improve strength, endurance, and balance will decrease your risk for falls that can break bones. One study suggested that regular exercise can cut your risk of a fall by 20 to 30 percent, making it one of the best ways to prevent hip fractures. Some of the regular weight-bearing exercises that can help include walking, running, and hiking. Exercise programs such as Tai Chi can help promote both strength and balance.

3. Maintain a healthy frame by eating right

Dietary recommendations for calcium are 1,000 mg daily for women before age 50 and men before age 70, then 1,200 mg for women over age 50 and men over age 70. A calcium-rich diet that includes milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, sardines, and broccoli is one of the easiest ways to prevent hip fractures. Older adults also require vitamin D to help absorb calcium. The current recommendations of 600 IU per day up to age 70 and 800 IU after age 70 will help reduce fracture risk when combined with calcium.

Eat lots of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables each day since this mineral positively affects calcium metabolism. Also, maintain muscle mass and build bone strength by getting protein at each of your meals.

4. Screen for bone density issues

Women age 65 and older should be getting bone density tests. Even younger women should consider the test if they are at higher-than-normal risk for a fracture. Low bone density doubles the risk of a hip fracture. That’s troubling since 56 percent of women and 18 percent of men age 50 and older have reduced bone mineral density. That figure includes 16 percent of women and two percent of men with bone density so low that it is considered osteoporosis.

According to one Johns Hopkins study, bone density screenings resulted in a 36 percent lower fracture risk. Screening for osteoporosis allows you to discuss treatment with your doctor that could result in stronger bones that resist fracture. Men over 70, or at risk for thinning bones from corticosteroid drugs, should also discuss osteoporosis screening with their doctor.

5. Check your medication and keep your vision sharp

Prescription drugs sometimes have side effects that lead to falls. They can produce drowsiness, dizziness, or the feeling of being off-balance when walking. If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor about a medication assessment.

Also, get regular eye exams and update your eyeglass prescription. Clear vision is one of the simplest ways to prevent hip fractures.

6. Keep yourself safe around the house

Update your home with various fall-prevention methods.

  • Keep objects off the stairs and floors to help prevent falls.
  • Place night lights along the path from the bedroom to the bathroom.
  • Install grab bars in the tub and slip-resistant rugs next to it.
  • Use pads or non-skid backing to keep carpets in place.
  • Do not stand on rickety step ladders or unsteady furniture.

Most falls happen at home, but easy changes could reduce your risk of a tumble by 61 percent.

  • Keep floors and stairs clutter-free.
  • Remove throw rugs.
  • Use nonslip mats in the tub and on the bathroom floor.
  • Add grab bars in the tub or shower and handrails on stairs.
  • Improve lighting.
  • Wear well-fitting shoes, even around the house. Wearing high heels or shoes with extremely thick rubber soles, and going barefoot (or walking around in your socks) at home may boost risk.

10 Ways to Stay on Your Feet!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff