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Top 5 Steps to Prevent a Hip Fracture

Steps you should take to prevent a hip fracture

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Updated June 12, 2012

Hip fractures are a possible complication of osteoporosis, a condition that causes thinning of the bone. Hip fractures are severe injuries that can lead to many problems. Preventing a hip fracture is the most important step you can take. Patients over age 65 and anyone with significant osteoporosis should take these five steps to prevent a hip fracture.

1. Stay Active

elderly active falls fracture hip
Image © Lisa Kyle Young
Not keeping active is the biggest mistake I see older patients making. Many people believe that they should become less active as they age. They feel as though they cannot safely exercise, and become more sedentary.

Unfortunately, this is precisely the opposite of what needs to be done. Weight-bearing exercise has been shown to have beneficial effects on maintaining healthy bone. Furthermore, fit people have better balance and are less likely to fall or fracture a bone.

While maintaining fitness is crucial, it is important to exercise safely. Contact your local senior center or physical therapist to see if any classes are offered specifically for older adults.

2. Check Your Bone Density

A bone density test is a quick, painless way to measure your bone density and determine if you have osteoporosis. People who have osteoporosis, also called bone thinning, are at much higher risk for fracture.

Knowing your bone density can help you and your doctor determine what steps are necessary to help improve your bone health and prevent fracture. Patients with lower bone density may be placed on medications to limit bone loss and improve bone density.

3. Perform a Home Safety Check

Image © Duncan Walker
Simple steps can be taken to ensure the home is a safe environment. Over 60% of falls causing a fracture in the elderly population occur at home. By taking a few simple steps, people can make the home a much safer environment.

A 1999 survey of homes by Yale University researchers found safety problems in the vast majority of houses. Almost 80% of houses of elderly people had loose objects on living room floors. including rugs, piles of books, or loose cords. Other areas of concern were stairways, kitchens, and bathrooms.

Sources: Gill, et al "A population-based study of environmental hazards in the homes of older persons" Am J Public Health, Apr 1999; 89: 553 - 556.

4. Stay on Top of Medications

Image © Andrea Gingerich
Do you know what medications you are taking? Do you know what they are for? Everyone should be able to answer these two simple questions. Many medications have side effects that can include dizziness and lightheadedness.

By knowing your medications, and the signs of problems with these medications, you can take control of your health. Let your doctor know if you think a medication could be causing a side effect that may lead to unsteady walking, loss of balance, or a fall.

5. Check Your Vision

Image © Sharon Dominick
As we get older, we may face problems such as failing vision, cataracts, and glaucoma. These problems can be easily screened by an eye doctor, and all people should have their vision regularly checked.

Many older patients have poor vision and may wear corrective lenses. But unless they check regularly with their eye doctor, they may not know if their vision has been worsening. Treating poor vision is a crucial step to avoiding falls.

Related Video
Stretches to Prevent Hip and Pain and Injury
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  7. 5 Steps to Prevent a Hip Fracture

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