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When hip fractures occur in the elderly, they can lead to serious health complications, including pneumonia, blood clots, and infections. These complications can be life-threatening, especially for seniors with weakened immune systems and other underlying health conditions.
In elderly patients, a hip fracture can be more hazardous than any other bone fracture, often leading to postoperative complications, with the increased risk of developing other severe health conditions.
In addition to the physical toll, hip fractures can also take an emotional and psychological toll on seniors. The loss of independence and mobility or decreased social engagement can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
A Fractured Hip and Poor Patient Outcomes
The fear of falling again can make seniors hesitant to leave their homes or engage in activities they once enjoyed. Most patients undergoing hip surgery experience a significant limit in mobility and independence, leading to a decline in overall health and the person's quality of life.
Bone density and muscle mass tend to decline significantly with age. In advanced years, several factors can contribute to slips and falls, including:
To reduce the risk of falling, seniors need to work with their healthcare providers to monitor and address these age-related changes and take proactive steps to maintain their physical health and mobility.
Understanding Hip Fractures in the Elderly
With age, muscle mass, and bone density decrease, comes the enlarging susceptibility to bone fragility or weakened bones and the risk of a hip fracture. A fracture of the hip is a common injury among older adults that can cause severe pain, limited mobility, and even the risk of death.
Repairing the bone fractures requires surgery, and a medical team must closely monitor the patient for post-surgical hip fracture repair complications such as internal bleeding.
Older Women and Complications Related to Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a common condition among elderly women, which can significantly increase the risk of fractures of the hip and related complications. Osteoporosis is characterized by a loss of bone mass and degradation of bone tissue, leading to weakened bones that are more vulnerable to fractures.
While both men and women can develop osteoporosis, women are at higher risk due to the natural loss of estrogen that occurs during menopause. Other risk factors for osteoporosis include family history, low calcium, intestinal disorders, vitamin D intake, and lifestyle choices in early adulthood.
Older patients with osteoporosis should work with healthcare providers to maintain peak bone density to reduce the risk of fragile bones and may involve:
Who is Most at Risk for Hip Fractures?
Women have a higher risk than men, and those with a family history of fractures or osteoporosis may also be more susceptible to a broken hip. Hip fractures and injuries can be particularly hazardous for senior adults and significantly increase mortality risk.
According to studies, there are higher mortality rates amongst older age patients who sustain a broken or injured hip, and can be as high as 20-30% within the first year following the injury. There is a five-to-eight times higher risk of death in elderly people within the first three months of a hip fracture compared to the elderly without a hip fracture.
Risk factors include an increased risk of death, often due to surgery-related complications, such as infections or blood clots, and pre-existing health conditions that the injury can worsen. A hip fracture can be life-threatening for elderly persons, particularly those with weakened bones and fragile health.
Hip Fracture Surgery: Risk Factors and Complications
Hip fracture patients may need to undergo surgery to repair the broken hip, and while the procedure is often necessary, it comes with its own set of risks and complications.
What Happens During Hip Fracture Surgery?
During surgery, the medical team will work to repair the injured hip, often by implanting screws, pins, or plates to stabilize the fracture. While post-surgery pain is a common concern with elderly patients, other complications carry a bigger risk, such as bleeding and infection.
Risks and Complications of Fractured Hip Surgery
Additionally, when patients with a hip fracture undergo surgery, it can worsen pre-existing conditions, such as heart or lung problems, and may increase the risk of death for an older person with multiple health issues.
Patients need regular medical attention to ensure their well-being and to prevent post-surgical complications.
Preventing Hip Fractures in the Elderly
A crucial step in preventing a hip fracture that could result in a significant decline of independence would be to modify the home environment by removing trip hazards and installing grab bars.
Encouraging regular exercise and a balanced diet can also help maintain bone health and reduce the risk of a broken hip.
Other steps that an elderly person can take to prevent broken hips could include the following:
Taking a proactive approach to health and well-being can reduce the risk of broken hips and other fall-related injuries, allowing for the maintenance of independence and mobility.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help Seniors and Their Families After a Hip Fracture?
After a hip fracture, seniors may have legal options available to them, such as pursuing compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
A personal injury lawsuit may be appropriate in cases where the injury was caused by someone else's negligence, such as a slip and fall accident in a public place.
Wrongful Death After a Hip Fracture
Death after sustaining a hip fracture might result from complications including infections, internal bleeding, pulmonary embolism, peripheral neuropathy, stroke, heart disease, or heart failure.
A personal injury lawyer can help seniors and their families navigate the legal process after a hip fracture, ensuring their rights are protected and they receive the compensation they deserve.