Because of our ever-aging population, hip fractures are expected to double by the year 2050. In Europe, the medical community is hard at work, gathering and interpreting data that they believe will help them predict, and therefore prevent, occurences of hip fracture.
Almost three quarters of falls that cause hip fractures in elderly people take place in patients' own homes - most commonly in the bedroom (35 percent), living room (23 percent) or bathroom (12 percent), according to a study presented at the EFORT Congress in London by researchers from Bangkok's Mahidol University. The research identified previous falls, cerebrovascular disease, poor vision and hearing, cognitive impairment and dependency on a caregiver as significant factors in causing fall-related hip fractures. "Wearing shoes is also a significant environmental factor in connection with falls that cause hip fractures in the elderly," reported the author of the study, Dr Panjapol Vitidvarodom.
Of course, common sense would dictate that there are a number of everyday precautions you can take to help you navigate safely, including the following:
- Make sure your medications aren't causing dizziness. Many seniors are over-medicated. Tell your primary doctor about every medication you are taking, especially if you are experiencing any light-headedness.
- Exercise to improve your balance. Try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, and don't sit for long periods of time. More daily movement equates to fewer falls, not more.
- Reduce or eliminate smoking and drinking alcohol. These are additional drugs you are putting into your body.
- Make sure your vision is the best it can be and that your eyeglass prescription is up-to-date. Visit an eye doctor at least yearly.
- Clear the way. Remove any impediments — throw rugs, small furniture, cords and cables — that are in your daily path.
- On icy days, stay indoors. It only takes a split-second to experience a life-changing accident. It's not worth the risk.
- Install grab bars in your bathroom, especially in the tub or shower.
Staying healthy and fracture-free does require a little work on your part, but it is worth the investment. A hip fracture is a grueling ordeal that you do not want to go through.