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Bone health, and specifically the risk of fracturing a hip, should be a serious concern for anyone over the age of 65. To learn more about what can be done to prevent bone loss, we spoke with board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Pratik Desai, MD, to give us tips on reducing the risk of fracturing a hip and other bones.
“Falls and poor bone health are the most common reasons for fractured hips we see,” says Dr. Desai. “Once your hip is broken or fractured, you’ll likely lose a level of functionality and go from walking unassisted to walking with a cane. If it happens again, you’ll drop down another level of functionality and go from using a cane or walker to using a wheelchair. This is why it’s so important to take all the necessary precautions to keep it from happening in the first place.”
Dr. Desai’s Top 9 Tips for Avoiding a Hip Fracture:
- Find Out Your Risk
It’s important to be familiar with your body’s health, especially when starting a new routine, so the first thing you should do is have a bone density scan (DXA). These non-invasive tests take about 15 minutes and are completely painless. Once you know where your bone health stands you can take all the precautions necessary to reduce your risk of fracturing a bone.
- Stop Smoking
Among the many, many other reasons to not smoke, recent studies have shown that heavy smokers are at a much higher risk for hip fractures than those who never smoked. Weight also played a key role in these studies which showed that the thinner the smoker the higher the risk of hip fracture.
- Don’t Drink Soda
Sodas, whether diet, regular, or otherwise, have been linked with an increased risk to hip fractures. In one study it was shown that women who consumed a single serving of soda a day had a 14 percent increased chance of breaking their hip.
- Eat Well
This may seem obvious, but many people think they’re eating a healthy diet but are actually putting themselves at an increased risk for bone density loss. 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.
- 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.
- Work Out
By working out and playing sports you 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.
- Maintain Brain Health
Patients 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 these steps you’ll effectively be reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, as well. For more information on reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, please read our blog dedicated to it.
- Optimize Your Home
Take a good look around your home and assess your situation and risk of falling accidentally because 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 hand rails 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.
- Make a 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.