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How to Avoid Bone Fractures When You’re Elderly

The older you get, the more at risk you are of fracturing a bone, but there are things you can do to prevent it. Take a look…

Most bone fractures, especially in old age, occur after a fall. These falls can occur at any time and sometimes are the result of someone else’s negligent behaviour, in which case you can put in a compensation claim for a bone fracture if you suffer one.  

That said, we all want to be able to avoid this eventuality at all costs, if we can. So, in this post, we’re going to help you avoid bone fractures by giving you some advice on how not to fall, and how to make your bones stronger in your old age.

Avoiding Bone Fractures as an Elderly Person

Around 310,000 bone fractures occur every year in elderly people across the UK, costing many sufferers their mortality and independence, especially if it’s a hip fracture. The main factors that affect the level of risk are both physical:

  • Weak legs
  • Poor gait
  • Impaired balance

And environmental:

  • Personal hazards
  • Inappropriate footwear or clothing
  • Pets or grandchildren’s toys
  • Steep stairs
  • Uneven pavements

The easiest way to avoid a bone fracture, unless it’s out of your control, is to make sure you’re not living in a way that puts you at a higher risk of falling over. In order to prevent a bone fracture from occurring, these risk factors need to be addressed and corrected. Here’s how you can do that as an elderly person:

Look after your physical health

You’re much less likely to fall over in the first place if you’re physically fit. To achieve this, you should engage in activities that enhance your:

Balance: how stable your body is whilst moving or standing still.

Flexibility: the range of motion of a muscle or group of muscles.

Strength: your body’s ability to develop and maintain strong muscles.

Balance and flexibility can be improved through tailored Tai Chi programs, swimming and yoga, whereas strength can be gained through lifting weights.

A study of men and women aged between 65 and 97 found that, by engaging in balance, flexibility and strength boosting exercises, falls were reduced by 35 percent, benefitting mostly those over the age of 80.

Be mindful of your environment

Another way to avoid falling over and suffering a bone fracture as an elderly person is to be aware of your environment. The environmental hazards that can cause a fall can be categorised into outdoor and indoor hazards. To avoid falling outdoors you should consider:

  • Wearing low heeled shoes with rubber soles
  • Using handrails when you go up and down stairs, just in case
  • Walk on the grass if the pavement in front of you looks slippery
  • Keep your driveway free of clutter
  • Use a cane if you struggle to walk without one

Similarly, for indoor hazards, you should:

  • Place items you use often within easy reach
  • Remove loose wires, cords and throw rugs from the floor
  • Use a non-skid rubber mat in the shower
  • Keep your stairs well-lit with switches both at the top and bottom of the stairs
  • Install handrails around the house if and where you need them

These tips might seem quite basic, but it’s always good practice being mindful of trip hazards as you go about your day.

Strengthen your bones with supplements

Avoiding the initial fall is the best preventative measure for bone fractures, but sometimes it just happens. Strengthening your bone density is the best way to prevent a bone fracture when an accident does occur.

Elderly people often suffer from poor nutrition, especially those who are frail. There have also been many studies that show low body weight and body mass index are associated with increased chance of a hip fracture.

To improve the strength of your bones, and reduce the risk of suffering a fracture when you have an accident, you should consider introducing drugs and dietary supplements that have been shown to improve it. These drugs and dietary supplements strengthen bones by either increasing bone resorption which increases mass, or by anabolic effect. They also increase bone strength and quality, and randomised control trials have shown them to reduce fractures over time.

Here are the main ones you should consider taking:

Combined Calcium and vitamin D

Combined Calcium and vitamin D both prevents and helps treat osteoporosis, particularly in frail and elderly people. Studies have shown that vitamin D taken once every 4 months decreases the overall risk of a fracture by 39 percent.

Bisphosphonates

These drugs are a bit awkward to take, requiring an overnight fast and a full glass of water for them to take effect. However, bisphosphonates have been shown to reduce both vertebral and non-vertebral fractures, decreasing them by 28 to 36 percent over a four-year treatment period.

Calcitonin

Helping with bone resorption, Calcitonin can be taken quite easily through a nasal spray and is 10 times more potent than what is normally produced in the human body. When given to post-menopausal women specifically, new vertebral fractures decrease by 33 percent.

Parathyroid hormone

This drug has a dual effect on bone. It improves bone resorption when taken continuously, and improves anabolic effect when taken intermittently. Parathyroid hormones have been shown to improve vertebral fractures by 65 to 69 percent, and non-vertebral fractures by 53 to 54 percent

Ready to Start Avoiding Bone Fractures?

In this post we’ve covered the main ways to avoid bone fractures as an elderly person. These include improving your physical health, being mindful of hazards in your environment, and considering drugs and supplements that have been proven to increase bone density.

Research is still ongoing and, in time, more ways to prevent fractures in the elderly will be discovered. Until then, try your best to stay healthy, avoid falling over, and improve the health of your bones.

 

Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained medical professional. Be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical or mental health advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.