A healthy diet and reducing risk of falling at home avoids hip fractures

“About a fourth of patients who suffer a hip fracture are unable to live independently afterwards.

  • Dec. 4, 2012 1:00 p.m.

One of the most common life changers for otherwise healthy older people is breaking a hip, says award winning U.S. orthopedic surgeon Dr. Marc Stevens.

“About half of patients who suffer a hip fracture have problems walking afterward, and about a fourth are unable to live independently afterwards. It’s one of the main reasons older adults move into nursing homes,” said  Stevens.

People with osteoporosis—a bone-thinning condition—have a much greater risk of suffering a fracture, Stevens says.

Bones lose strength with increased age, and osteoporosis primarily affects women older than 50, but men make up 20 percent of osteoporosis suffers, he says.

“The most common fractures are to hips, vertebrae and wrists—the bones that experience the most physical stress on a daily basis. Spinal fractures can also seriously affect a person’s quality of life. They often have a difficult time bathing, dressing, or walking independently,” Stevens said.

Stevens offers these tips for preventing a broken hip:

• Focus on osteoporosis and nutrition: Stevens says he advises his patients, especially women, to prevent osteoporosis by consuming bone-healthy vitamins, such as vitamin D, calcium, manganese, magnesium and other crucial building blocks for type i collagen. Regular exercise also helps strengthen bones.

• Avoid common accidents: While time, lack of adequate nutrition and chronic conditions such as osteoporosis make bones susceptible to breaks, a fall often finishes the job. Most injuries occur at home—where we spend most of our time. Keep pathways to the bathroom well-lighted at night to help reduce the risk. If you have area rugs, make sure they’re secured to the floor. Install grab bars in the tub or shower.

“Osteoporosis is currently not a curable condition, but it can often be prevented simply through exercise, good nutrition, not smoking and not drinking excessively,” Stevens advised. “There is nothing sadder than to see one of my older, healthy patients go from happy, independent lifestyles to assisted-living or nursing homes because of a fall.”

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