It’s every senior’s worst nightmare: falling and breaking a hip. Falls are the leading cause of death from injury in the United States, and hip fractures are one of the main reasons for that.
Shocking statistics say that up to 300,000 Americans over age 65 fracture a hip each year—and up to 30 percent of them will die within 12 months. Many more will experience significant loss of function and mobility. This is true even for otherwise healthy seniors.
Our bones weaken with age, making it much more likely to sustain serious injuries from a fall. Plus, with most older adults having one or more chronic condition, a hip fracture can trigger a domino-effect of health problems and physical decline. But a hip fracture doesn’t have to be a death sentence. Here’s what you can do to maximize your chances of survival:
• Repair your fractured hip as soon as possible.
If your hip requires surgery—and you’re well enough to undergo it—you should have the surgery right away. The sooner you repair your hip, the better your chances of survival. In fact, a 2011 study found having hip surgery within three days of the injury reduced the risk of death by nearly 20 percent.
• Participate in your recovery.
The standard course of care after a hip fracture is surgery and a hospital stay of four days to a week, then intense sub-acute rehabilitation for two to six weeks. Your chances of complete or near-complete recovery are closely related to how much effort you put into your rehabilitation. Too many people believe partial recovery is okay for seniors, and merely surviving the fracture is a good enough goal. But if you were a healthy, active senior before the accident, there’s no reason to remain confined to a wheelchair if you can help it.
Even after coverage for your rehabilitation ends, you can continue your efforts toward a full recovery. Your physical therapist can recommend exercises to do on your own. Make sure to do them as often as possible, since bones heal better when they’re used. You can also increase the protein, calcium, and vitamin D in your diet to strengthen your bones and muscles.
Even if you don’t regain your previous level of ability, you can still continue having a rich life. Make sure to stay socially active, continue your hobbies, or take up new ones. You may benefit from moving to an assisted living community, where socializing is easier and you can get help when you need it.
To learn more about Bridgeway Senior Living’s sub-acute rehab or assisted living program, feel free to contact us.