Hip fracture in the elderly is one of the serious health issues facing the nation. In addition to affecting the independence and quality of the elderly, the treatment of injuries associated with falls is adding to the nation’s rising healthcare costs.
According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls. Up to 50% of adults over 65 years of age suffering hip fractures experience decreased mobility, while 25% of them experience significant functional loss. For the remaining 25%, the injury is fatal. The CDC also reports that one out of four women and one out of eight men will suffer a fractured hip when they reach 90 years of age, and that nine out of ten hip fractures happen in individuals over 60 years of age. Fractures of the hip generally require surgery and prolonged hospitalization. A fractured hip could trigger other health problems too.
Fear of falling increases after a hip fracture and can deter activities for older adults. Elderly adults face this looming fear that they may fall, which keeps them from walking, moving about or engaging in other activities. This can make them inactive, bored and depressed, taking a toll on the body and leading to other complications.
Preventing falls is crucial to preventing hip fracture. Established healthcare centers offer slip / fall prevention programs based on the guidelines of the American Geriatric Society. The program involves a comprehensive assessment of the physical and environmental fall risk factors and modification of these risks with exercise, gait and balance training sessions. Suggestions are offered to correct the factors in the person’s home environment that increase the risk of falls such as slippery surfaces, lack of handrails, cluttered areas, and more. By improving mobility and confidence, a well-coordinated fall risk assessment and conditioning program can go a long way in preventing hip fracture in the elderly.