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What Happens if a Senior Doesn’t Get Surgery for a Broken Hip


What Happens if a Senior Doesn't Get Surgery for a Broken Hip

Hip fractures seem inconsequential to younger people, but to an older person, the injury can be fatal. This is due to the fact that a broken hip is extremely difficult for an elderly individual to recover from. Once the fracture occurs, life takes a downhill turn for the injured. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers a broken hip to be the most serious type of fall injury. Seniors who fracture a hip are unlikely to remain independent afterward. The risk for a hip fracture increases as an individual grows older. A broken hip is a common injury; still, it is no less a catastrophic blow. Approximately 300,000 people over the age of 65 are hospitalized for a hip fracture each year. In 95 percent of hospitalized patients, the hip fracture occurs when the senior falls sideways.

What is a hip fracture?

Hip fractures occur when the top part of the thigh bone or femur is broken. Depending on the type of injury and health of the bone, the hip may be broken in multiple pieces or have a slight crack. The type of fracture determines whether or not surgery is necessary.

Why are older people more at risk for a hip fracture?

Women are 75 percent more likely than men to sustain a hip fracture. This is because more women than men suffer from osteoporosis, a disease that leads to brittle bones and causes them to them to break more easily. Plus, in general, women fall more often than men. Additionally, the elderly oftentimes grow physically weaker, due to a decreasing amount of muscle mass. These individuals with mobility and balance issues are at a greater risk for falls. Consequently, a broken hip is a common occurrence in the older population.

What are symptoms of a broken hip?

A senior can experience symptoms that indicate a broken hip. He may feel pain in the groin or hip area. Subsequent to the fall, the elderly person may be unable to move his legs. Due to the fracture, the senior might be unable to bear weight on the injured leg. Physical manifestations of the fractured hip will be evident. The hip area may appear bruised, swollen or stiff. Another indication of a hip injury is when the injured leg unnaturally turns outward. Plus, a caregiver may notice that the leg on the side of the injured hip appears shorter. Just because the senior can still walk, it does not rule out the possibility of a hip fracture. In general, a broken hip is treated with surgery. The senior’s age, physical condition and medical history are taken into account when the doctor develops a personalized treatment plan.

Are non-surgical treatments an option?

When a senior does not undergo surgery for a broken hip, it might mean that physical therapy is a medically viable treatment option. However, the senior and family caregiver should be aware that very few hip fractures are treated without surgery. Non-surgical treatments are reserved for isolated greater trochanteric hip fractures. Families worry about surgery being performed when an elderly loved one is extremely ill or has an unstable, displaced hip fracture. Most surgeons agree that an operative procedure is necessary to reduce pain. Without surgery, the injured individual’s pain increases. Plus, many patients with a broken hip become immobile and subsequently develop bed sores, recurrent urinary tract infections and pneumonia. Without physical activity, muscle mass decreases and leads to the risk of falling again. A broken hip can take three to four months to heal without surgery, but recovery largely depends on the bone health and pattern of injury. Physical therapy may begin six weeks after the fall, when the bone is healed enough to prevent displacement upon motion. When the senior and the medical team opt for a non-surgical route, regular follow up care is critical. X-rays and physical exams should be done to ensure that healing continues and the fracture remains in an ideal position. Healing also requires lifestyle adjustments on the part of the senior. If, for example, the senior either falls again or begins to walk early on against medical advice, the bones can move and prompt a need for surgery. The senior is also advised to quit smoking and, if diabetic, control blood sugar levels to promote healing.

Can hip fractures be prevented?

Healthy bones are key to avoiding a broken hip. Seniors may maintain bone strength by performing weight-bearing exercises, like walking. Balance training helps the elderly reduce their risk of falls. Men and women over age 50 should also consume 1,200 mg of calcium per day. Falls may be averted by removing hazards from the home environment. Clear excess furniture, remove throw rugs and keep electrical cords against the wall. Well-lit hallways are essential. Seniors should also get an eye exam annually and use a cane or walker if walking becomes unsteady. Elderly Fall Prevention Plainfield Illinois Despite taking care of their health, seniors may accidentally fall and break a hip. When injury occurs and surgery is needed, after surgery care is the next step in the path to recovery. Assisting Hands Home Care provides compassionate after surgery home care to seniors who return home to heal. Our dedicated caregivers are available to assist seniors once they return from the hospital. Our postoperative care includes in-home assistance with personal hygiene, meal preparation and light housekeeping. We’ll remove trip hazards to lower the senior’s risk for falling again (Learn about our Elderly Fall Prevention Services). If the senior’s treatment plan requires medication, Assisting Hands Home Care providers offer timely medication reminders. We also provide transportation to doctor’s offices so the senior can follow up after surgery. Our caregivers provide mobility support to help seniors feel steady when they walk. When your loved one experiences a fall and breaks a hip, call us for in-home care. Assisting Hands Home Care is prepared to provide short- or long-term home care to accelerate recovery times. We support seniors living in Oswego, Yorkville, Plainfield, Romeoville, Bolingbrook, Joliet and the surrounding communities of Will and Kendall counties in Illinois. Sources:,,,,