One of the most serious fall injuries is a broken hip. It is hard to recover from a hip fracture and, afterward, many people are not able to live on their own. As the U.S. population gets older, the number of hip fractures is likely to go up.
Each year over 300,000 older people—those 65 and older—are hospitalized for hip fractures. More than 95 percent of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways. According to the Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC). Women experience three-quarters of all hip fractures, fall more often than men, and often have osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.
Older people are at a higher risk of hip fracture because bones tend to weaken with age (osteoporosis). Multiple medications, poor vision and balance problems also make older people more likely to trip and fall — one of the most common causes of hip fracture, reports the Mayo Clinic. A hip fracture almost always requires surgical repair or replacement, followed by months of physical therapy.
Take steps now to maintain bone density, avoid falling and prevent hip fracture, courtesy of the CDC. Start by:
Talking to Your Doctor
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider to evaluate your risk for falling and talk with them about specific things you can do.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist to review your medicines to see if any might make you dizzy or sleepy. This should include prescription medicines and over-the counter medicines.
- Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about taking vitamin D.
Getting Screened for Osteoporosis/Exercising
- Get screened for osteoporosis and treated if needed.
- Do strength and balance exercises.
- Do exercises that make your legs stronger and improve your balance. Tai Chi is a good example of this kind of exercise.
Having Your Eyes Checked
- Have your eyes checked by an eye doctor at least once a year, and be sure to update your eyeglasses if needed.
It you have bifocal or progressive lenses, you may want to get a pair of glasses with only your distance prescription for outdoor activities, such as walking. Sometimes these types of lenses can make things seem closer or farther away than they really are.
Making Your Home Safer
- Get rid of things you could trip over.
- Add grab bars inside and outside your tub or shower and next to the toilet.
- Put railings on both sides of stairs.
- Make sure your home has lots of light by adding more or brighter light bulbs.
The Mayo Clinic offers these 8 tips to maintain healthy bone and reduce your risk of falling:
- 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 to strengthen bones and improve balance. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, help you maintain peak bone density for more years. Exercise also increases your overall strength, making you less likely to fall. Balance training is also important to reducing your risk of falls, since balance tends to deteriorate with age.
- Avoid smoking or excessive drinking. Tobacco and alcohol use can reduce bone density. Drinking too much alcohol also can impair your balance and make you more likely to fall.
- Assess your home for hazards. Remove throw rugs, keep electrical cords against the wall, and clear excess furniture and anything else that could trip you. Make sure every room and passageway is well-lit.
- Check your eyes. Have an eye exam every other year, or more often if you have diabetes or an eye disease.
- Watch your medications. Feeling weak and dizzy, which are possible side effects of many medications, can increase your risk of falling. Talk to your doctor about side effects caused by your medications.
- Stand up slowly. Getting up too quickly can cause your blood pressure to drop and make you feel wobbly.
- Use a walking stick or walker. If you don’t feel steady when you walk, ask your doctor or occupational therapist whether these aids might help.