Education can help prevent fractures in older adults

July 11, 2013

Topic: orthopaedic fracture

Education can help prevent fractures in older adults

As people age, they know that they need to be more conscious of their behaviors as they may be more likely to impact their health. A new study published in the journal Osteoporosis International revealed that individuals over 50 who are engaged in their own care may have a decreased likelihood of suffering orthopaedic fractures

About one out of every two women and one out of every five men will fall and break a bone. This instance increases their risk of experiencing a second fall twofold. Despite this likelihood, orthopaedic specialists can work with patients to prevent falls from occurring. 

Addressing bone health
Among the elderly population, orthopaedic fractures are commonly the result of weak bones. Because people are living longer with advanced medicine, they have to keep their bones strong and healthy for a longer period of time. Although it was previously the common belief that there was nothing professionals could do about the weakening of the skeletal system, there are things that they know now that can help prevent poor bone health. 

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends that older individuals consume an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D, as well as engage in physical activity on a regular basis, according to the National Institutes of Health Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases National Resource Center. In addition to diet and exercise, they should be screened for osteoporosis so that a doctor can treat it early before it progresses. 

Understanding risk
Despite getting all the right nutrients, engaging in physical activity and receiving preventative care, Dorcas Beaton, lead author of the study, explained that perhaps the most important thing that seniors can do to reduce their chance of falling and breaking bones is to understand their risk. 

The researchers surveyed patients from 37 different fracture clinics in Canada about their knowledge about osteoporosis. They discovered that the majority of the subjects did not believe that they had a problem with their bone health, and therefore were not as inclined to follow up with a healthcare provider as those who did think they had an issue that affected their bones. 

"Treatment decisions lie with the primary care physician or nurse practitioner and the patient to decide upon. Our goal is to facilitate evidence-based and well-informed decision-making." said Beaton. "It seems that the patient's awareness is currently central to the process, to even getting the discussion started."

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