Last week I read in Oprah Magazine that people over 50 who fall and break a hip, have a one in five chance of dying within a year. I read the sentence over and over. That didn’t seem right; the number was too high. I was intrigued but even more so when not an hour later I tumbled down the stairs. My first thought after falling was: Did I break anything? I didn’t break anything, but my ankle was very sore.
This prompted me to look into why hip fractures pose such a big threat to longevity in seniors. The summary below, found online at www.healthinaging.org helps provide clarity and is titled “Functional Outcomes After Hip Fracture in Independent Community Dwelling Patients.”
“As many as 50 percent of older adults face difficulties following a hip fracture, and may be unable to bathe, feed, or dress themselves (called “activities of daily living,” or ADLs). They may not be able to get around for months to even years after their fracture. This physical decline can lessen their quality of life, and some 20 percent of older adults go on to long-term care facilities after having a hip fracture.
Studies conducted on older adults who have had hip fractures suggest that the strongest indication that a person will experience a decline after a hip fracture is being disabled before the fracture occurs.
What’s more, hip fractures affect not only the quality of life and health of the older adult, but also that of their caregivers—and can cause financial burdens when the individual requires more care.”
A recent study referenced in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society noted that “The study included a total of 368 patients who had surgery for hip fractures at Yale New Haven Hospital—including 184 patients who did not live in care facilities, and who were completely independent in their daily living activities before their hip fracture.
By three months after their hip fracture, 21 patients had died. By six months, five more patients had died. Of the participants, 11 percent had dementia, 18 percent had depression, 19 percent had chronic kidney disease, and 21 percent had congestive heart failure.
The researchers said that their study showed that having cognitive impairment, including dementia and in-hospital delirium, can be a major predictor of functional problems and disability following hip fracture, even for older adults who were able to function well before having a hip fracture.
The researchers also noted that the proportion of people who had difficulty performing their daily tasks three months after surgery did not improve after six months.”
It goes without saying that it’s best to avoid falling or breaking your hip. Aside from that you can exercise (focus on weight bearing exercises), engage in activities which improve your balance and eat well to maintain healthy bones. This will make it less likely that you will suffer great harm in the event that you take a tumble. Oh, and take a few tips from me: Don’t be lazy. Stop trying to carry large loads of stuff downstairs. Make two trips and for goodness sakes, turn the lights on so you can see!