Falls and Fractures

Why are falls and fractures more common among the elderly?

Falls and fractures affecting the elderly are common occurrences.

The older you get, the more likely you are to be in fear of falling and breaking one or more of your bones. Falls are common amongst older adults because of their poor balance. Furthermore, falling is particularly common when the individual suffers from an underlying health condition.

Injuries due to falls are often overlooked. However, these injuries occur in older adults. Most eighty-year-olds will experience a bad fall at least once a year. On most occasions, falls do not lead to serious injuries. However, a sudden fall can lead to a fracture depending on the patient's bone density and health status. Certain conditions, such as osteoporosis and, in severe circumstances, bone cancer, can lead to fractures.

What is meant by the term osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis is a term that translates to the weakening of the bones. In other words, the bones become brittle, which means coughing or bending over can lead to a fracture. However, osteoporosis-related fractures affect the spine, wrist and hip.

Are there any other related causes?

Generally, muscle weakness and problems with balance can lead to falls and fractures. Poor vision and other health-related complications such as heart disease, hypotension and dementia can increase a person’s risk of a fall.

How do you prevent falls and manage fractures?

Dr Coetzer encourages her patients to keep their bones strong and healthy through vitamin D and calcium supplementation. Senior fractures account for most injury-related hospital admissions. Dr Coetzer encourages her patients to build healthier bones and muscle mass, thereby improving their balance. It helps to review medications, check footwear and attend health checks to assess vision and hearing regularly. These timeous checks can prevent older people from falling and fracturing their bones.

Fracture repair involves realigning the fractured bone and using a splint or cast to immobilise the area. Traction can stretch specific regions of the body in a certain position.

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