Hip Fracture: Prevention

What increases the risk of hip fracture?

You are more likely to break your hip if you have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a thinning and weakening of the bones that can happen as you get older. Other diseases, such as cancer and kidney disease, may also weaken bones and make it easier for them to break.

Preventing a hip fracture is important as you get older. Hip fractures are a serious injury. About 30% of older adults who break their hip die within a year after the fracture.

Hip fractures usually result from a fall. Many things increase your risk of falling as you get older:

  • Your eyesight and hearing get worse.
  • Your reflexes tend to be slower.
  • Your muscles may be weaker and your coordination may not be as good as it used to be, so it can be harder to stop a fall.
  • Medical problems such as arthritis, heart disease, or low blood pressure can affect your balance.
  • Medicines you are taking may cause lightheadedness or dizziness. Alcohol can also have this effect.

You can help prevent hip fractures by making your home safer, strengthening your bones, and exercising to get stronger. If you are overweight or obese, losing some weight helps your balance and may help prevent hip fractures, too.

How can I make my home safer?

Most falls and injuries from falls happen in the home. Here are some ways to make your home safer:

  • Make sure your home has good lighting.
  • Remove or secure anything that you might trip over, such as loose or trailing electric cords, tubes, pet leashes, or yarn.
  • Arrange furniture so that it is not in the way when you walk around the house.
  • Sometimes loose throw rugs can cause a fall. Carpet and stair treads should be tacked down firmly.
  • Make sure that stairs have safety handrails on both sides.
  • Use nonslip mats in the bathtub or shower.
  • Wear rubber-soled, low-heeled shoes that fasten securely. Avoid shoes with soles that are too slippery or too sticky, such as some crepe or rubber soles. Avoid wearing high heels and sandals with light straps.
  • Avoid climbing, heavy lifting, and using step stools or ladders to reach high places. Get help when you need it.
  • Sit down to pull on pants and underwear. It’s easy to trip yourself if you try to step into pants or a skirt while you are standing up.

Also, don’t drink too much alcohol or take too much medicine that makes you sleepy. This can make it easier to lose your balance and fall.

How can I strengthen my bones?

Eat a healthy diet. A diet with plenty of calcium can decrease your risk of osteoporosis. After age 50 you should be getting 1200 milligrams (mg) of calcium every day. Adults 19 to 50 should have 1000 mg each day. Foods such as low-fat milk and dairy products, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, sardines, and shellfish can help you get calcium. Calcium is also added to some food products, such as orange juice or soy milk. It can also be taken as a supplement.

Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium. You should have 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D every day if you are older than 70. You should get 600 IU a day if you are 70 or younger. Ask your healthcare provider about the best way for you to get the right amount of calcium and vitamin D every day.

All women and some men over the age of 65 should have a bone density test to see if they have osteoporosis. Men and women younger than 65 may also need a bone density test if they are at a higher risk for weak bones or if they break a bone.

If you have osteoporosis, talk with your healthcare provider about medicines you can take to make your bones stronger.

How will exercise help?

Exercise strengthens your muscles and improves your balance and coordination. This makes it less likely that you will fall. Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking, helps to keep bones and muscles strong. Balance exercises or a mind-body practice called tai chi may increase your strength and improve balance. A good exercise goal is to get at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) a week of moderate exercise. Ask your healthcare provider about the types of exercise that might be best for you.

What else can I do to take care of myself?

Have your vision checked as often as recommended by your healthcare provider. Get corrective lenses or contacts if necessary.

If you smoke, try to quit. Talk to your healthcare provider about ways to quit smoking.

If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink.

Talk to your healthcare provider about ways you can prevent falls. If you have had problems with falling, be sure to let your provider know. Your provider will review your medicines and observe your walking. You may benefit from physical therapy and a home safety evaluation. Your provider may refer you to a specialist who can help find the cause of falling and ways to prevent it.

Many communities offer fall prevention programs for older adults. Call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or visit their Web site at http://www.eldercare.gov.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-06-30
Last reviewed: 2014-06-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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