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Preventing Falls and Associated Hip Fractures

It is estimated that one in three older adults falls each year. Because injuries from falls are the leading cause of death and disabilities among women and men aged 65 or older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a report that addresses the problem and offers suggestions on how to prevent falls and resulting hip fractures (approximately 95% of hip fractures are caused by falls).

According to Judy A. Stevens, PhD and Sarah Olson, M.S. of the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control's Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention who wrote a report on hip fractures and falls, approximately 340,000 hip fractures occur each year, and 50% of all older adults who are hospitalized for hip fractures are not able to return home or live independently after a hip fracture. Approximately 80% of patients hospitalized for hip fractures are women, and the hospitalization rate for female hip fractures has increased 40% from 1988 to 1996. This increase in the hospitalization rate for hip fractures is largely due to the fact that the elderly population has increased, in part because less older adults are dying from coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer than in the past.

Risk factors for hip fractures include:

  • Increasing age
  • Osteoporosis (significant loss of bone mineral density)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Functional limitations
  • Environmental hazards
  • Use of pyschoactive medications
  • History of falls
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Low body mass index