Hip Fractures in the Elderly: Risk Factors and Prevention

Hip fractures in the elderly are very common. In fact, 9 out of 10 of these kind of fractures happen to people over the age of 60. Interestingly, the majority of hip fracture patients are women. What are the risk factors for hip fractures? How can you prevent them from happening?

The Risk Factors of Hip Fractures in the Elderly

Weakening of physical abilities. As you age, your eye sight becomes weaker and you may find that you’re having balance issues. These natural changes make it more likely that you could fall and fracture a bone.
Osteoporosis.  With this disease, the body fails to form enough new bone, or too much old bone is reabsorbed. This makes bones brittle and more susceptible to fracture.
Gender. About 70 percent of hip fractures occur in women. Women lose bone density at a faster rate than men do. This is due to the drop in estrogen levels that is a part of menopause.
Heredity. Research shows that people with a slender frame and small bones are more likely to fracture a hip.
Nutrition. Poor nutrition in childhood increases the risk of hip-fracture. Without a sufficient supply of calcium, phosphate and vitamin D in the diet, bone formation is weaker.
Medications. Cortisone medications, such as prednisone, weaken bones if you take them for a long time.
Medical conditions. Some disorders increase the risk of hip fractures because they lead to the loss of bone or the risk of falling. These disorders include an overactive thyroid, type 1 diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders; rheumatoid disorders; prolonged bed rest or immobility, or Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

How to Prevent Hip Fractures in the Elderly

Here are three areas to watch so that you lower the risk of hip fracture:

Keep Your Bones Strong

Get enough calcium and vitamin D. As a general rule, men and women age 50 and older should consume 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day, and 600 international units of vitamin D a day.
Exercise. Enroll in an exercise class to strengthen your bones and improve balance. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, help you maintain peak bone density for more years. Balance training involves exercising on different surfaces-such as carpets, stairs, and gravel-to challenge one’s balance.
Quit smoking and avoid too much alcohol. Tobacco and alcohol both reduce bone density.

Keep Your Surroundings Safe

• Remove throw rugs and tack down carpets to avoid tripping.
• Keep electrical cords against the wall.
• Make sure every room and passageway is well-lit and that the light switches are easily accessible.
• Install grab bars in bathrooms and make sure that you use a skid-resistant mat.
• Make your chairs and tables stable by removing the wheels.
• Put kitchen items that you always use at waist level or on low shelves.

Keep Tabs on Yourself

Check your eyes. Have an eye exam every other year, or more often if you have diabetes or an eye disease.
Watch your medications. Some medications may make you feel weak and dizzy. This increases your risk of falling.
Never stand up quickly. It may cause your blood pressure to drop and make you feel dizzy.
Use a walking aid. Use a stick or walker if you don’t feel steady when you walk.
Use sensible shoes and hip padding. Rubber-soled, flat shoes prevent slipping. Hip padding minimizes the impact of a fall.

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