Fate Worse Than Death? A Broken Hip
WebMD News Archive
In an editorial accompanying the study, Shanthi N. Ameratunga, MBChB, MPH,
of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, writes that while the findings
are disturbing, it is not unique for older people to prefer death to disability
from a chronic condition. According to Ameratunga, the study indicates that
prevention and management of falls and hip fractures in elderly people should
be a priority.
Salkeld and colleagues write that a number of techniques designed to
intervene before an older person fractures a hip are effective and should be
implemented in frail older women. Lappe agrees.
"Everyone -- men and women, children and adults -- should be getting
adequate calcium and vitamin D and weight-bearing activity throughout their
lifetime," Lappe tells WebMD. "Even people in nursing homes should be
doing exercise because it does two things: It may help maintain bone mass, and
it helps with muscle strength and coordination so you are less apt to
fall." Adequate protein in the diet is also important, since studies have
documented low protein intake among those with falls. Home health nurses also
can assist elderly people who are still living in their own homes by checking
their home for trouble spots -- such as furniture or other items that block or
interfere with safely walking through a room -- and even suggesting brighter
colors for furniture or draperies to help those with dim eyesight see their
surroundings more clearly.
- In a recent study, women in their 70s and 80s reported that they would
rather be dead than in a nursing home as a result of a broken hip.
- Hip fractures are an adverse outcome of osteoporosis, and prevention of
this disease should be a top priority.
- To prevent osteoporosis, people should consume adequate amounts of calcium,
vitamin D, and protein, and perform weight-bearing exercises.