For thirty years, the incidence of hip fractures in older adults had been in decline. That is, until recently. Since 2012, that number has hit a plateau, which is very concerning to Dr. Douglas P. Kiel, Director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center at Hebrew SeniorLife’s Institute for Aging Research. According to Dr. Kiel, “By 2050, the worldwide incidence of hip fracture is projected to increase by 310% in men and 240% in women compared to rates in 1990.”
When Josephine Pina of Boston spotted an ad in the Metro newspaper seeking individuals who had difficulty with thinking and who moved slower than usual, she immediately contacted the staff at the Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) at Hebrew Senior Life. They were investigating the link between brain function, balance and falls in older adults. “I wanted to be part of the study and to see what the brain does at 67 years old,” she said.
Recently, researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife Institute for Aging Research (IFAR) published an article in the Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation giving evidence that sub-sensory vibrations delivered to the foot soles of seniors can improve mobility and reduce the risk of falls in the elderly.
As parents, watching our children take their first steps is one of the proudest, most gratifying moments imaginable. As adult children, watching our parents begin to lose their footing is one of the most concerning. Those who find themselves at this juncture are often left wondering what to do and where to turn for more information.
There are a number of risks associated with the harsh winter weather—not just the frigid temperatures. One of the most threatening winter hazards is the potential for slipping and falling on patches of ice or snow. These falls can lead to a variety of injuries—from cuts and scrapes to broken bones. In fact, fractured ankles (at any age) and broken hips (especially for those over 50) are two of the most frequent common injuries that can result from falls on ice or snow.
Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones become weak and are more likely to break. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the hip, spine, and wrist. According to the National Osteoporosis Foundation, 54 million Americans have osteoporosis or low bone mass, putting them at risk for broken bones. Therefore, researchers are continuing to work towards finding strategies to improve bone health and decrease osteoporosis risk.
A hip fracture is one of the most common injuries in older adults, with about 90% of fractures occurring in people over 60. Hip fractures usually require surgery (and possibly hip replacement) followed by intensive rehabilitation. It is critical that rehabilitation services begin early and continue until the patient reaches his or her maximal functional level.
Life is a continual balancing act. When we’re young, it may seem as though we’re able to take on everyday activities with ease. But, as we grow older, our senses and ability to efficiently perform multiple tasks at the same time start to slowly deteriorate. Even the simplest of simultaneous activities, such as walking and talking, can disrupt our balance and put us at risk for a serious fall-related injury.
If you ask older adults, “What are your biggest fears?” many will tell you they have a fear of falling. Some have already fallen, while others have witnessed a friend or family member suffer a fall and its painful or sometimes life-threatening consequences.