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Worried About Parents Falling?


Are elderly falls common?
Are elderly falls that serious?
What can I do to prevent fall injuries for my parents?

Are elderly falls common?



Falls are one of the leading causes of elderly injuries. Almost a quarter of a million elderly people will have a fall this year. Nine out of ten falls will result in a hip fracture. Women have a one in seven chance of a hip fracture during their lifetime, while men have a one in seventeen chance.

Are elderly falls that serious?



Elderly falls are very serious. Those who have had a hip fracture are 5 to 20 percent more likely to die than any other age group. But the seriousness of hip fractures in not just in increased risk of death. The estimated cost of medical bills after a hip fracture is $37,000. That does not include other incidental costs such as travel and caregiver expenses, The other effects of hip fractures can be divided into two categories: loss of health and loss of independence.

Loss of independence

About 50% of those hospitalized for hip fractures require long-term nursing facility care, which can last indefinitely. Twenty-five percent of them will still need help after a year. Even if a nursing facility is not needed, many patients will require assistance bathing and dressing themselves for several weeks or months. They may need walking aids like canes, walkers and rollators. This loss of independence can be frustrating and cause low self-esteem. Helping recovering relatives can put a tremendous strain on families.

Loss of health and strength

Hip fractures can be devastating to health and strength. Once a person has had a hip fracture, their physical activity goes to very minimal level. The physical activity is reduced mostly because of physical shortcomings, but may also be caused by a fear of falling again. Lower physical activity means less muscle mass, which can mean a lack of mobility and range of motion. The reduction also reduces the protection surrounding hip joints, placing the person at a higher risk of future fractures.


What can I do to prevent fall injuries for my parents?



Take the hip fracture risk test for your relative and see how many risk factors they have. You may want to encourage them to get a DEXA bone density scan. Some of your relative's habits, such as diet and exercise, may be difficult to influence. Vitality Medical does offer nutritional supplements. These nutritional supplements provide calcium and vitamin D, which reduce the risk of health fractures.

There are some simple, effective steps that can be taken around the house to reduce the risk of hip fractures. Vitality Medical offers the following products to help make your parent's house safer:
  • Grab bars: The bars make getting up from the toilet or out of the bathtub easier. These sturdy metal bars can be attached to many different surfaces at a variety of angles.
  • Shower chairs: These reliable chairs allow you the ability to have a shower without the difficulty of standing up.
  • Raised Toilet Seat: Reduces the amount of bending down necessary in order to use the toilet.
  • Reachers and foot stools: These helpful products allow you to reach tough spots, such as cabinets and bookshelves.
In addition, you can ensure that power cords are out of walking paths and that loose carpeting is tightened or removed.

Sources

Partnership For Progress - Partnership For Progress Natural Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases - Natural Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center - Bone Health National Osteoporosis Foundation - Osteoporosis

Helpful Articles

University of Washington - Bone Density
Osteopenia - Dexa Scanning
Mayo Clinic - Bone Density Test: Measure Your Risk of Osteoporosis
University of Washington School of Medicine - Differential Diagnosis In Musculoskeletal Imaging
Mayo Clinic - Hip Fracture