A person’s senior years can be full of wonderful activities, fun with friends, time with grandchildren, traveling, and so much more. Without a doubt, the later years of life can be very fulfilling. Yet unfortunately, a bad fall can take all that away in the blink of an eye. In fact, among Americans age 65-and-older, fall-related injuries are the leading cause of accidental death.
For the elderly, a fall is much more likely to result in a fracture than in younger people. (Even a seemingly “harmless” tumble can even result in fracture, particularly in seniors.) This is due to a variety of factors. The normal aging process generally means decreased bone mass due to slowed bone cell production. In many cases, this can result in osteoporosis, which is weak and brittle bone due to gradual loss of healthy bone tissue. In fact, bones may be so fragile that they break under even the slightest strain, like with a sneeze or bump.
At ElderCare 4 Families, we know the importance of prevention when it comes to falls at home or in a senior care setting. Fractures and other fall-related injuries do not have to be part of the aging process. Focus on what you can control, like creating healthy habits and an exercise routine, and you’ll be prepared to enjoy an active life for many years to come.
Prevention is Key To Reducing Fracture Risk Among Elderly
Even though bones may not break after every fall, a person experiencing a fracture may always be fearful of falling again. This fear may then limit their activities and eventually decrease quality of life. While some accidents cannot be predicted or prevented, there are many steps you CAN take in making falls and fractures much less likely.
Osteoporosis is a leading cause of brittle bones leading to fractures. Yet, people often are unaware of the frequent link between a broken bone and osteoporosis. Of course, this is particularly dangerous for elderly people who are unaware they have low bone density. Detection and prevention should be part of any plan to help protect an elderly loved one from experiencing a potentially disabling fracture. This is true whether a person is living at home or in a senior care community.
If a patient and healthcare provider fail to link the broken bone to osteoporosis, the chance to create a prevention and treatment program is potentially lost and additional fractures may continue to happen. Bone density test should be an important part of healthcare screening in seniors age 65-and-older. Your doctor can help you or a loved one create a “Healthy Bones” plan for supporting an active lifestyle for many years to come! The most widely recognized Bone Mass Density Test is called a DXA test. It is painless, a bit like an x-ray, yet with much less radiation exposure. This particular test can measure bone density at the hip and spine, which provides a good gauge of bone density.
Strong Bones and Solid Footing!
Specialists focused on healthcare needs of the elderly agree; preventing falls and potential fractures requires a two-fold approach. The goal of fracture prevention should focus on reducing bone fragility and decreasing risk of falls through a variety of lifestyle and living environment adjustments. Steps to prevent or slow bone loss can never begin too early, including supplementing diets with calcium and vitamin D.
Exercise – Weight-bearing exercise is a great way to help combat bone thinning. Muscle strengthening and resistance training exercises will help prompt your body to produce new osteocytes, or bone cells. This is an important defense against the bone loss that happens as we age. Apart from muscle strength, balance training can play a large role in fall prevention. Sometimes, decreased coordination and slowed reflexes contribute to falls. Aging slows a person’s reaction time and makes it more difficult to regain balance following a sudden movement or shift of body weight. While reduced balance and coordination may be realities of advancing age, there are ways to help take control and maintain solid footing. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for at-home exercises designed to enhance gait and balance. ElderCare 4 Families can help direct you to top-rated, trusted providers and caregivers prioritizing fall prevention programs.
Diet – Be sure to consume adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D through foods or supplementation. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), older adults should consume 1,200 mg. of calcium and 600-to-800 IU of vitamin D daily for optimum bone protection.
Home Safety – Fall prevention planning includes removing any “trip-and-fall” risks around a home or other living environment. Be sure the home is clutter-free in any walking areas, without throw rugs, cords or other slippery surfaces. Evaluate any risers, thresholds, carpeting around entrances, or other risks that may cause a fall. Curbs and uneven sidewalks are also risky.
Other risk factors – Be aware that some medications may increase fall risk. These include blood pressure medications, muscle relaxers, heart medications, and others. Ask your doctor about any medications that may create problems with balance, weakness, or dizziness.
Contact ElderCare 4 Families
At ElderCare 4 Families, we know it’s possible for seniors of any age to lead active, fulfilling lives free of falls and bone fractures. Get the support you need to create a prevention plan that works best for you or your loved one. Never underestimate the power of a calcium-rich diet, supplements, exercise, and medical screenings in creating a “Healthy Bones” plan that works for you! Call with any questions you have about Reducing Fracture Risk Among Elderly.