Fractures are painful and frustrating for people of all ages. They’re particularly difficult for seniors, however, who tend to have a harder time recovering from them.
Whether you’re a senior yourself or are just concerned about your elderly parents or relatives, it’s important to know what you can do to prevent fractures. It’s also necessary to know how to help speed up the recovery process after a fracture occurs.
Read on to learn everything you (and your loved ones) need to know about preventing and recovering from fractures.
Most Common Types of Fractures for Seniors
The following are the bones that seniors most commonly fracture:
All fractures are difficult to deal with, of course. But, hip fractures are generally considered to be the most serious type of fracture. They’re also the most expensive. Hip fractures, alone, count for nearly $9 billion in direct medical expenses.
Risk Factors for Fractures
Some seniors are more prone to fractures than others. The following risk factors significantly increase one’s chances of experiencing a fracture:
- Age: The older you are, the greater your chance of dealing with a fracture.
- Gender: Women are more prone to fractures than men. This is due, in part, to the fact that they lose bone density more quickly after menopause.
- Chronic medical conditions: If you suffer from chronic health problems (thyroid issues, intestinal disorders, etc.), your calcium and vitamin D absorption tends to be lower. This, in turn, leads to weakened bone density and an increased fracture risk.
- Medications: Some medications, especially cortisone medications and drugs that influence the central nervous system can weaken the bones or cause dizziness and increase your chances of falling.
- Nutrient deficiencies: If you’re deficient in vitamin D, calcium, or other nutrients, you’re likely to lose bone mass more quickly and increase your risk of fractures.
Most Common Causes of Fractures
You may have some of these risk factors. But, that doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll experience a fracture.
It does mean, however, that in certain circumstances, you’re more likely to break a bone.
Some of the most common circumstances that cause fractures include:
- Severe impact (such as a car crash)
- Falling from a standing position
- Twisting while standing (most common in people who already have very weak bones)
Tips for Preventing Fractures
If you want to decrease your chances of experiencing a fracture (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t), taking the following steps can go a long way.
- Eating plenty of calcium-rich foods or taking a daily calcium supplement
- Taking a daily vitamin D supplement to ensure adequate calcium absorption for seniors
- Performing weight-bearing exercises regularly (walking, hiking, weight lifting, etc.) to strengthen the bones and decrease bone density loss
- Avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
- Avoiding medications that cause dizziness
- Getting your eyes checked regularly (vision issues increase your risk of tripping and falling)
- Using canes, walkers, lift chairs and other tools designed for older adults with limited mobility
Tips for Recovering from Fractures Quickly
If you’ve recently experienced a fracture — or want to be prepared in case you do experience one — these tips can help speed up your recovery.
- Eat enough calories: Your body has to work really hard to repair a fracture; eating a sufficient number of calories can help provide it with the energy it needs to repair the damage.
- Eat adequate protein: Protein is especially important for rebuilding bone and repairing fractures because it increases the production of essential growth factors.
- Reduce inflammation: Consume plenty of anti-inflammatory foods (turmeric, fruits, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, salmon, etc.) to repair oxidative damage, allow the body to function efficiently, and speed up recovery.
- Increase mineral consumption: In addition to getting plenty of calcium, it’s also important to consume plenty of minerals like magnesium, zinc, and silicone.
There’s nothing you can do to guarantee that you (or a loved one) won’t experience a fracture.
However, there are a lot of things you can do to decrease your risk and expedite your recovery in the event that one does occur. Keep this information in mind so you’re prepared in case you do need it.