Many older people fear hip fractures — and with good reason. Of all types of fractures, hip fractures have the most significant impact on the quality of life. An alarming 20–25% of people over age 50 who break a hip will die within a year.
A hip fracture usually occurs when a persons fall from a standing position, with the hip taking the impact of the fall, although less traumatic falls also can cause hip fractures According to Johns Hopkins University, 90% of hip fractures are the result of a fall.
Here are some simple steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of falling:
- First, make sure that your floors are clear of any obstacles such as area rugs or extension cords.
- Hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms should be well lit (especially at night).
- Grab bars in showers and bathtubs are highly recommended.
- Be sure that your eyeglasses or contact lens prescriptions are up to date.
- Review your medications with your doctor; some medications can increase the risk of falls by impairing balance and alertness.
- In some cases, lightly padded hip protectors may be recommended; these can reduce the risk of a hip fracture in the case of a fall.
- Another way to reduce the risk of falls is to improve your muscle strength through resistance training and your balance through yoga or tai chi exercises. Check with a physical therapist or certified trainer to get recommendations that are appropriate and safe for you.