What You Should Know About Hip Fractures in Elderly

Chances are pretty good that you either know someone or have heard about someone who has had a hip fracture.  Nine out of ten hip fractures happen to someone over the age of 60 and it is a common occurrence for people as they get older.  More women than men end up with hip fractures, but it can occur in both genders.

Risk Factors for Hip Fractures

Due to increasing balance issues, seniors are more likely to fall.  This can result in different fractures, including one of the hips.  Eyesight becomes an issue and people lose strength in their muscles as they age, increasing the likelihood that they will have a fall.  Here are some risk factors for people to have a hip fracture:

  • Being a woman – They have a lower bone density after menopause and are more likely to break a hip when they fall.
  • Osteoporosis – This disease affects the density of bones as people age, resulting in more fractures even with simple everyday activities.
  • A small frame and being Caucasian or Asian increases the risk.
  • Poor nutrition – Not eating the right kinds of food or having an eating disorder increases the risk of fracture from damaged or weakened bones.
  • Tobacco and alcohol use can lead to bone density loss.
  • Some medications can cause dizziness or disorientation, which may result in more falls.
  • Certain medical disorders can increase the likelihood of a hip fracture either through bone loss or from an increased risk of falling.
  • Hazards in the home can make it more likely that a senior will trip and fall.

Signs and Symptoms of a Hip Fracture 

A person will probably know when they have broken a hip because they will be unable to walk and pain is felt in the surrounding area.  Other symptoms to expect if the hip is broken include stiffness and inflammation in the area.  However, certain types of hip fractures may not be as apparent since it is less painful.

Hip fractures can actually be life-threatening in seniors and should be treated right away.  The normal treatment is immediate surgery to repair the hip.

Recovery Process

The recovery time for a hip fracture is a lengthy process.  In the beginning, the patient will stay in the hospital up to a week or longer if complications develop.  Once the senior is released from the hospital, they have several options.

  1. They can go to a rehabilitation center and receive care and several hours of physical therapy.
  2. They can go to a skilled nursing facility and receive physical therapy.
  3. They can go home and receive in-home therapy.
  4. They can go home and attend a hospital or clinic-based therapy program.

While seniors begin working with physical therapy immediately after surgery, it can be up to a year before they are recovered.  Three outcomes are likely after a hip fracture: the person recovers almost completely back to where they were before the fracture, they partially recover but need a cane or a walker to get around, or they must live in an assisted living facility because they are no longer independent.

How to Prevent Hip Fractures

The senior and family caregivers can do several things to prevent hip fractures.  These actions include:

  • Provide adequate lighting so the person can see where they are going
  • Keep walk areas clear of clutter
  • Pick up rugs and secure electrical cords
  • Use skid mats in the bathroom and tub
  • Use stable chairs with arm rests
  • Keep all items within reach so climbing isn’t necessary
  • Stay active with exercise to strengthen the bones
  • Take a calcium supplement as recommended by a doctor
  • Practice balance exercises

By encouraging your senior family member to add light strength training to their exercise routine, you can help them strengthen their bones.  This will help prevent fractures from occurring when they do fall.

If your loved one has had a hip fracture and is recovering, be patient with them and encourage them to do what they can.  You can use homecare services to assist them with daily activities that are too difficult for them now.  This will lessen the strain on family caregivers and provide the care the senior needs.

Carefect Homecare Services provides personal care, housekeeping services, and respite care for seniors.  Our caregivers know how to work with seniors who have suffered a hip fracture and can help them with activities such as laundry, light housekeeping and meals preparation.  They can also encourage exercise for those who have not yet had a fracture in hopes that it can be prevented.