Helping Seniors Recover from a Broken Hip
Advice for families and caregivers
People over 65 are at increased risk of breaking their hips, especially if they have osteoporosis. Recovery time can vary greatly, from six weeks, if all goes well, to up to a year, if there are complications. During this time patients will need help from a caregiver.
Will my parent be able to bathe with a broken hip?
Is there anything I can do to make toileting easier for my parent who has a broken hip?
Are there any special clothing items I should buy to help my parent who is recovering from a broken hip?
How can I help my parent, who is recovering with a broken hip, to prevent falls at home?
Is it safe for my parent who broke a hip to exercise?
My parent is still experiencing a lot of pain from a broken hip. How can I help?
How can I make it easier for my parent with a broken hip to get around?
What can I do to help my parent who is depressed due to a broken hip?
My parent with a broken hip was told to stop smoking. Is that really necessary?
Where can I find someone to help my parent who has a broken hip?
Talk with an occupational therapist -- someone trained to help people overcome disabilities to function in work and home environments -- about assistive devices that can make your parent's life easier and help him or her to be as independent as possible. These devices include extra long shoehorns and a long object with a hook on the end that can help with underwear and socks if a person is unable to bend.
With the assistance of devices, such as a long-handled sponge -- which will help him or her wash otherwise hard to reach areas -- your parent will be able to do a lot to care for him- or herself. A bath bench should also be helpful, as well as grab bars for getting in and out of the shower.
Purchasing a raised toilet seat and installing grab bars next to the toilet should help your parent go to the bathroom unassisted.
Slip-on shoes that are easy to get into and that have nonslip soles will be very helpful. Also, loose clothing that doesn't go over the head and that can be tied in front would make dressing easier.
Preventing falls will be critical. You can hire trained and certified aging-in-place specialists who can come to your parent's home and offer advice on how to make the home as safe and fall-proof as possible. These specialists can then make the necessary adjustments to the home. They can be found on the internet at CAPS.
Other options are geriatric care managers and home care agencies whose employees have been trained to assess a senior's home for falling risks -- although your parent will then be left to make the necessary changes on his or her own.
Here are some general suggestions that may help to prevent a fall:
- Rearrange the furniture to create an unobstructed passageway into and around all rooms
- Make sure no rugs or carpets bunch up or have frayed edges that could be tripped on, and that all rugs and carpets are securely anchored to the floor
- Install grab bars in the bathroom and railings in all stairwells
- Add lighting so that all stairs, exits and entrances are well lit and pose no hazard
- Tape all cords to the wall
- Warn your parent to only carry very small loads, as larger ones could cause a loss of balance
- Check to see that the soles of any shoes your parent wears in the home don't stick to the carpet and are not likely to cause falls
- If possible, reduce the number of medications your parent takes, as taking four or more can affect one's sense of balance
Actually, your parent will need to exercise in order to improve the function of his or her hip. While your parent will have to exercise carefully, it is critical to recovery.
In addition to medication for pain, there are many techniques that may help with pain management. It may be helpful for your parent to try the different techniques and see which one is most helpful.
Your parent could consider getting a handicapped parking sticker. These can be obtained from the state's registry of motor vehicles and the application usually requires a doctor's signature.
Having a handicapped sticker would ensure that your parent could always park close to the entrance of the building he or she is going to and might enable your parent to get out more.
Of course, many communities provide rides for seniors, which would be another option, as would taking a cab or getting a ride from a friend, relative, or caregiver.
Elders who break their hips can feel that the situation is the beginning of the end, and that they will become increasingly frail and incapacitated. Here are some things you can do:
- Empathize with your parent's feelings.
- Don't minimize the situation, but remind your parent that it is temporary and that he or she will become more fully mobile little by little.
- If your parent continues to feel depressed, tell the doctor and make sure the depression gets treated and starts to improve.
- Any exercise that your parent is able to do will help improve his or her mood.
Yes, because smoking inhibits the ability of bones to heal. As a result, if your parent keeps smoking, the hip will take much longer to heal than it would have otherwise.
Care.com is a website that lists people throughout the United States who provide care to seniors, includes photos and descriptions of their experience, and does free background checks for members. You can search by zip code. For specific listings, go to Care.com.