Hip fractures are far more common in the elderly than in any other age group. Older people are more likely to fall, and more likely to break a hip when they fall, than younger people. Osteoporosis, smoking, alcohol abuse, tripping hazards in the home, and medications can all increase the risk of hip fracture.
A fractured hip does not need to mean the end of an active life. Careful attention during the recovery period can maximize your loved one’s chances of returning to their regular activities.
To help a loved one recovering from a hip fracture you can:
Make a plan. Your loved one may feel depressed and anxious after receiving a diagnosis of a hip fracture. It is scary and frustrating to suddenly be dependent on others for help with daily tasks. Discuss your parent’s recovery plan with them as soon as possible. Knowing what comes next will help them to feel in control of the process. Your loved one will most likely need surgery or a hip replacement, followed by several days in the hospital. Many patients then move to a rehabilitation center to complete their recovery. Recovering from a hip fracture takes time and, ideally, regular attention from a team of medical professionals. If mom or dad still lives at home, this is a good time to discuss their living arrangements with them. Some seniors are able to return home after recovery, especially if help is consistently available. Others find that an assisted living arrangement makes life after a hip fracture much easier for all involved.
Help them relearn skills. Recovering from a hip fracture is all about learning to do things again. This may mean doing things in a different way than your loved one is used to. Physical therapy is an important component of recovery. A trained therapist will help your loved one rebuild and maintain as much muscle mass as possible during recovery. The therapist will teach exercises that can be done outside of therapy time. Following this recommended exercise program is key to hastening recovery. An occupational therapist will teach your loved one how to be as independent as possible with daily activities. They will teach them techniques to use when bathing and using the bathroom, for example. A walker, cane, or wheelchair can help your loved one stay mobile even after they go home. Take notes on any tips the therapist gives, or ask for a printout detailing what you talked about.
Avoid complications. Prolonged bedrest can cause a host of complications, including blood clots, bedsores, loss of muscle mass, and pneumonia. Many of these issues can be prevented with a good medical team to advise you. Your loved one should stay as active as possible during their recovery period to avoid these issues. You can help by encouraging them to keep up with their exercises and to become mobile as soon as possible.
Keep in mind that treatment for a hip fracture varies widely. The recovery plan will be based on the nature of the fracture and how active your loved one was prior to the fracture. Adhering to the care plan will maximize results, and your loved one will do best with plenty of support and encouragement from you.
Also, remember that a fall can happen anywhere at any time. Living in assisted living does not guarantee that your loved one will not have a fall. The hope is that by having care available, falls are less likely. Additionally, if a senior residing in assisted living should have a fall, they will be found quicker than if they were to fall at home when no one is around to find them.