7 strategies for avoiding hip fractures

The most common reason for hip fractures? Falling, particularly if you're 65 or older. Here are some tips on how to keep yourself from falling, and keep your bones strong, just in case.

7 strategies for avoiding hip fractures

1. Take a daily calcium and vitamin D supplement

  • Aim for a total of 1,200 milligrams of calcium, taken in two doses, and a minimum of 1,000 IU of vitamin D. Together, these can help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Anyone with darker skin and/or living in northern climates needs 2,000 IU of vitamin D a day.
  • Surprisingly, vitamin D may even help prevent falls. One large study found that women with low blood levels of D were 77 percent more likely to fall than women with normal levels.

2. Circle the block 15 times

  • Weak legs can increase your risk of falling fourfold. Bolster your leg strength with at least 30 minutes of walking on most days.
  • To further protect yourself, throw in a few lunges and squats.
  • Another good exercise for improving balance and leg strength is tai chi. Studies find it effective for improving balance, strengthening legs and reducing the risk of falls.

3. Ask your doctor to review your meds

  • Certain drugs, including tranquilizers, some antidepressants, anti-arrhythmia drugs, digoxin and diuretics significantly increase the risk of a fall.
  • Regardless of what you're taking, if you take three or more medications, you're also more likely to fall than someone who takes fewer.
  • Never stop taking a prescription drug without talking to your doctor.

4. Hire a professional organizer

  • Ask for help de-cluttering your house, focusing on both surfaces and things on the floor.
  • Throw rugs, floor plants or decorations and end tables filled with pictures and knickknacks can all trip you up.
  • Search professional organizers online to find resources in your area.

5. Install bright lightbulbs

  • No matter how good your eyesight is, if it's too dark to clearly see obstacles in your way, you're heading for a fall.
  • Make sure all reading lamps have at least 60-watt bulbs, but preferably 75 watts.
  • Put 100-watt bulbs in all overhead fixtures.
  • Turn on the lights when you enter a room.

6. Check your mood

  • If you're feeling depressed, get to the doctor now for treatment. Depression doubles your risk of falling.
  • Researchers don't know why, but it could be related to paying less attention, drinking more alcohol, eating less food or even side effects of the medication.

7. Sip water all day

  • Although the old target of drinking two litres (eight glasses) of water a day has gone by the wayside, staying hydrated is still important, particularly as you age.
  • It becomes harder to recognize thirst as you get older.
  • Many older people also don't want to drink too much because they're afraid they might not make it to the bathroom in time.
  • Dehydration contributes to low blood pressure and dizziness, which can lead to falls.
  • A good strategy is to keep a water bottle with you and make it a point to empty it by the time you go to the bathroom.

There are two main ways to prevent hip fractures: prevent falls, and maintain your bone density. That way, if you do fall, you could wind up with a bruised — but not broken — hip.

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