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Accidents like falling and breaking a hip can seem to come out of nowhere. But bone health and fall prevention are partly within our control.
And they’re worth your time. Falls and broken bones can be life-changing injuries, especially for people 65 or older. They’re one of the top reasons that older adults lose their ability to walk and, ultimately, their ability to live on their own.
These can be anxiety-provoking topics, but there are ways for older adults to prevent falls and broken bones. Taking these nine simple steps will mean you’re doing everything you can to maintain your independence.
1. Learn Your Bone Density
Not everyone has an equal chance to break a bone if they fall. A bone density scan, or DXA, can tell you if you have an issue with bone loss. As you might expect, a less-dense bone could be at higher risk for breaking. This test takes about 15 minutes and is completely painless.
2. Stop Smoking
Heavy smokers are at a much higher risk for hip fractures when compared to people who don’t smoke. This is because smoking can lower bone density.
One study even found that one in eight hip fractures may be caused by smoking.
3. Step Away From the Soda
Sodas — whether diet or regular — have been linked with an increased risk of hip fractures. One study found that women who drank a single serving of soda a day had a 14 percent increased chance of breaking their hip.
4. Eat Well
There’s a strong connection between bone health and healthy eating. Eating three servings of potassium-rich fruits and vegetables a day will decrease your risk of hip fracture by as much as 50 percent. It’s also very important that your diet be rich in vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency is found in at least 50 percent of hip fracture patients.
Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining bone density and strength and can help you absorb calcium, which you should also be getting plenty of in your new healthy diet. Foods rich in Vitamin D include salmon, eggs and mushrooms. Many processed foods, like milk and cereal, also have Vitamin D added in.
5. Sit Less
Studies have shown that if you sit more than you stand then you’ll be at an increased risk for hip fractures. Other studies have also shown that walking at least four hours a week will reduce your risk by 41 percent. By keeping your body used to being active, you’ll maintain or improve your balance and coordination, which will go a long way in preventing accidental falls.
6. Work Out
Being physically active helps build muscle and increase coordination and balance. Increased muscle mass leads to increased bone mass and density, which makes your bones stronger and healthier. Weight lifting, Pilates, yoga, swimming, racquetball and running are great ways to increase muscle mass and bone density.
7. Maintain Brain Health
People with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia have an increased risk of fracturing their hip, as well as taking much longer for it to heal after a break. By following the other eight steps, you’ll effectively be reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well. For more information on reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, please read our blog post dedicated to it.
8. Fall-Proof Your Home
Take a good look around your home and assess your situation and risk of falling accidentally. You might trip over a cord, a rug or some other low object out of your line of sight.
Your home should be clear of obstructions in the walkways to ensure you don’t fall. Installing handrails is a great way to make certain that you always have something to grab onto if you lose your balance. Bath rails and shower chairs are also a good idea to have due to the slippery, wet surfaces.
9. Make a Personal Bone Health Plan
Now that you know what you should do to cut down your risks and increase your bone and brain health, take the next step and form a plan for follow through. It’s one way to take control of your health, which is one tenet of our CREATION Life philosophy.
The AdventHealth Orthopedic Institute offers cutting-edge treatments, but we’d rather give you the tools to prevent bone injuries and keep living the life you want. To find an orthopedic expert, visit us online or call Call 407-543-4639 .