|Carolyn Tinglin is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Science. Her passion is healthy aging. Throughout her career, she has published numerous articles on health, wellness, aging and recently presented at the International Council on Active Aging conference. Carolyn also works as an assistant professor at the University of the Fraser Valley.|
Falls can result in devastating outcomes including hip fractures and even death. In Canada, over 35% of older adults who end up hospitalized because of a fall, are diagnosed with a hip fracture (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2014). Furthermore, for adults 65 and older, a staggering 95% of hip fractures are the result of a fall.
So what’s the risk? Research tells us that there are multiple factors and circumstances that place people at risk for falls. Additionally, there are key factors that increase the risk of a hip fracture.
Factors that contribute to falls:
- acute illness (i.e. fever, cold, pain, dizziness)
- balance and gait changes (posture, changes in the way you walk)
- chronic health conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, kidney disease, heart disease
- muscle weakness or reduced physical activity
- vision changes
- cognitive impairment (deterioration)
- environmental (the way a room is set up, presence of clutter, building access, hazards)
Factors that contribute to hip fractures:
- osteoporosis (low bone mass, deteriorating bone tissue)
- decreased muscle mass
- age (risk increases with age)
- medications (certain medications weaken bones, like prednisone)
- cognitive impairment
- diet (not enough calcium and vitamin D)
- smoking and excess drinking (this can contribute to bone loss)
- chronic disease
How can you reduce the risk of a hip fracture? Reduce your fall risk and maintain bone health.
Get moving – get active and participate in weight bearing exercise like walking, weight lifting, balance exercise.
Check to make sure you’re getting enough calcium and vitamin D (check with your primary care provider to discuss what your body needs).
Check your eyes – yearly checkups or more frequently if necessary. See your eye doctor immediately if you notice visual changes such as blurred, double or cloudy vision.
Review your medications with your primary care provider – are there medicines that make you dizzy; make you feel weak? Are you taking medications that contain cortisone?
Drink in moderation and quit smoking – drinking and smoking reduce bone density.
De-clutter – take a look around you, is your room, apartment or house environment an accident waiting to happen? Be sure to take a look at lighting, and key areas around the house such as the stairs, kitchen and the bathroom.
Getting in and out of the bathtub – consider grab bars and anti-slip mats in the bathtub, a raised toilet seat if you have physical limitations.
Use what you’ve got – if you have a cane, walker or other assistive device, use it to help you maintain your balance. Broken or malfunctioning assistive devices should be repaired immediately.