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. Weak bones due to osteoporosis, smoking, alcohol use, tripping hazards in the home, and medications can all increase the risk of a hip fracture. A fractured hip does not need to mean the end of an active life, but care must be taken during recovery to maximize your loved one’s chance of returning to their regular activities.
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. Discussing the plan for their recovery with them as soon as possible will help your parent 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 may be a good time to discuss their living arrangements with them. Some seniors will be able to return home after recovery, especially if help is consistently available. Others may find that an assisted living arrangement will make life after a hip fracture much easier for them (and you).
What to do After a Hip Fracture
Recovering from a hip fracture is all about learning to do things again, although that may mean doing things in a different way than your loved one is used to. Physical therapy is an important component of recovery, and a trained therapist can help your loved one rebuild and maintain as much muscle mass as possible during recovery. The therapist will often teach exercises that can be done outside of therapy time. Following this recommended exercise program is key to hastening recovery.
In addition, an occupational therapist will teach your loved one how to be as independent as possible with daily activities, such as bathing and using the bathroom. Often, a walker or wheelchair will be used to help your loved one stay mobile, and even after they go home a walker or cane may be needed for safe mobility.
An important part of recovering after a hip fracture is avoiding possible complications such as blood clots, bedsores, loss of muscle mass, and pneumonia, all of which become more likely during periods of prolonged bed rest. Many of these issues can be prevented with a good medical team to advise you and to help your loved one stay as active as possible during their recovery period. Keep in mind that treatment for a hip fracture varies widely, and depends on how active your loved one was before the fracture, the nature of the fracture, and how well their care plan is adhered to.