When you're nursing a broken bone, you may be tempted to rest safely on a sofa, day and night, until it's healed. Don't! Your recovery will go better if you follow your doctor’s orders and stay as active as possible.
You may need to do things differently for a while. But the rewards for staying active are great. You'll build strength and protect your bones from weakening, says Robert Dorman, a physical therapist at Massachusetts General in Boston.
A bone density scan can detect thinning bones at an early stage. If you already have osteoporosis, bone scans can also tell you how fast the disease is progressing.
But an abnormal bone scan can create as many questions as it answers. Who should get a bone density scan, and what do the results mean? If your bone density is below normal, what can you expect, and what should you do?
Ease back into your home routine with these smart ways to get around, cook, dress, and stay independent as you heal.
Make Your Home Safer
Are you using a cane, walker, or a sling now? Are you just moving a little slower? Ask your family or friends to help make your home safer, says Logan Sharma, an occupational therapist at Mass General in Boston.
Here's what your family and friends can do to help you avoid a trip or fall:
Rearrange the furniture. Clear a wide path through each room. If needed, move your bed to the first floor until you can climb the stairs again.
Clear out clutter. Put away stacks of clothes, books, or magazines -- anything that can trip you up.
Fix loose rugs. Secure large area rugs with double-stick tape around all edges. Remove small throw rugs.
Add lighting. Make sure all entries and hallways are brightly lit. Put nightlights everywhere you walk after dark.
Install handrails on both sides of stairs. Also install grab bars in the shower. Be sure to use them!
Keep a phone nearby. If you live alone, always keep a mobile or cordless phone at arms' reach, so you can call for help.
Make Daily Tasks Easier
You may need to move differently until your broken bone heals completely. For a fracture in your spine, keep your back straight and upright. Don't swivel sideways or rotate your torso.
A physical or occupational therapist can show you how to do daily tasks safely, depending which bone is fractured.
These tips may help:
Make cooking a cinch. Ask family and friends to shop for you. Or order groceries online for pick-up or delivery. Try these food choices:
Stock up on healthy, frozen meals you can pop in the microwave.
Buy pre-washed, pre-cut veggies and fruit to save time and energy.
When it comes time to prepare the meal, make things easier for yourself:
Sit on a high stool with a back while fixing meals.
Move pots and dishes onto the countertop within easy reach.
Slide pots and dishes along the counter instead of lifting.
Learn bathing basics. Try these bath and shower tips to keep you safe:
Use a long-handled sponge to scrub your feet, lower legs, and back.
Put a non-slip rubber mat in the bathtub or shower.