An unfortunate fall and the associated injury – joint sprain, muscle contusion or bone fracture – can happen to anyone, but seniors are particularly at risk. Illness, mobility problems, progressive disability all increase the risk of falls and fractures. We advise you on how to reduce this threat.
From the text you will learn:
- in what situations is it especially easy to fall ,
- what are the main symptoms of a fracture and what is first aid for a fracture ,
- what are osteoporotic fractures in the elderly.
There is no doubt that life expectancy is increasing all the time. The Japanese (82.2 years), Australians (80.6 years), French (80.6 years) and Swedes (80.6 years) are now living the longest. It is estimated that by 2050, the number of people over 80 in Europe will increase by 43 million. The increase in life expectancy is also related to the improvement of its quality, visible, inter alia, in in the form of a more active lifestyle of seniors. Unfortunately, it is not always adapted to their actual capabilities.
In people over 65 years of age, there is clearly a greater traumatism – limb fractures , rupture of the hip bone , broken ribs and others. This is mainly the result of unfortunate falls and traffic accidents. Their risk is increased by weakness in strength in the lower limbs characteristic of old age, gait disturbances, vision problems, taking certain medications (e.g. sedatives) or the presence of chronic diseases.
An Accidental Fall – Can It Be Prevented?
According to statistics, falls are quite common among seniors: 50–67% of nursing home residents, 33% of independent seniors and 20% of hospitalized patients suffer from falls. The most common injuries in the elderly are:
- broken rib
- head injuries (subdural hematomas),
- spine injuries,
- fracture of the proximal femur,
- injuries to the elbow and forearm,
- fracture / fracture of the hip bone ,
- fracture of the wrist and hand bones .
Can this type of injury be prevented? You can definitely reduce the risk of their occurrence. In winter, when it is easy to slip on a sidewalk that is not snow-free, it is worth leaving the house a few minutes earlier, so as not to rush too much and wear shoes with non-slip soles. Always obey traffic laws – whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist or driver.
It is worth for a senior to have a special shopping bag on wheels at his disposal – you do not need to carry it, which makes it easier to maintain balance. A senior’s apartment should be well lit, and individual rooms should be equipped with, for example, practical handles that help to use the toilet, shower or bathtub.
First aid for fracture
The most common symptoms of a fracture include: pain, swelling, inability to move the limb normally, unnatural position of the limb, or the presence of an open wound with visible bone fragments.
When a limb fractures , it is important to provide proper first aid as soon as possible.
- You must not bend the limb or move it at the site of a possible fracture, as this may aggravate the injury.
- If there is an open wound in the limb, a sterile dressing should be applied over it.
- If a fracture is suspected, the limb should be immobilized: tie the hand to the torso, and the leg – to the leg. You can use sticks, boards, an elastic bandage, and in emergencies, even a scarf or a handkerchief.
- After first aid is provided, an ambulance should be called immediately.
Osteoporotic fractures – what are they?
A completely different group of injuries occurring in seniors are the so-called osteoporotic fractures as a symptom of osteoporosis. It is a disease that affects mainly menopausal women and people over 70 years of age. It is caused by the thinning of the bone tissue, as a result of which the bones become thinner, weaker and break more easily.
Unfortunately, developing osteoporosis does not give any characteristic symptoms – the disease is often diagnosed when the first fractures occur: mainly of the vertebrae, wrist and femur. The statistics here are inexorable – due to complications, as many as 20% of patients with hip fractures die within six months after the fracture, and more than 50% within the next year. If no death occurs, the vast majority of seniors do not return to full independence and require constant care.
So how do you prevent osteoporotic fractures ? Women in the menopausal period should be under constant medical care and treat hormonal disorders that cause damage to bone tissue. You should remember about a diet rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin D. It is also worth eliminating risk factors, such as alcohol consumption or smoking.