Each year, thousands of older Americans are hospitalized because of hip injuries. Fractures are most common amongst older individuals, particularly those with osteoporosis. Most fractures are caused by falling, but there are countless ways that older adults can injure the delicate bones of their hips. If you fracture your hip, you will most likely need surgery to restore your mobility. The recovery period after surgery is long, often lasting from months to years, but there are a couple of ways that you can speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of complications.
1. Do some light exercise
Exercise is essential to all facets of health as you age, including bone health. Exercising helps to strengthen muscles and joints while improving balance, which reduces your overall risk of taking a tumble and hurting your hip. If you are recovering from a painful hip injury, light strength-training exercises during physical and occupational therapy can help you to regain normal movement and function in your pelvic area. Other exercises such as Tai Chi can improve posture and balance to reduce a hip fracture patient’s increased risk of secondary injuries.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Your diet can help to prevent you from developing osteoporosis and encourage healthy skeletal growth. Plenty of calcium and vitamin D help bones to grow strong, and both nutrients can be found in many fortified dairy products. You should also include plenty of magnesium in your diet from sources such as whole grains, leafy greens, beans and nuts. If you’re a smoker, quitting can decrease your risk of developing bone disease.
3. Clean up your home
Your home is full of hazards that could lead to trips, falls and other potentially dangerous accidents. You should make sure that walkways are clear of tripping hazards such as cables and rugs, and that the floor is never wet or slippery when you walk. It’s also a good idea to install grab bars in areas such as the tub or toilet so that you can sit and stand safely. If your house has two stories, make sure to put railing on the stairs, as they pose the greatest tripping hazard to mobility impaired individuals.
4. Take medications as prescribed by your doctor
When you’re recovering from a hip injury, your doctor may prescribe medications to help your recovery. If your diet doesn’t include enough calcium or vitamin D, your physician may suggest taking supplements. Some seniors also take bisphosphonates, teriparatide or denosumab to combat osteoporosis and make future hip fractures less likely to happen.