Nancy Reagan falls and fractures pelvis. How to decrease your elderly loved one’s risk.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Former first lady Nancy Reagan fell and fractured her pelvis.  She is 87, recuperating at home and expected to recover in about eight weeks.  She had fallen a few months ago, also.  Unfortunately, falls resulting in fractures are all too common at ages 65 and older.  The risk of another fall after the first one is high.  Fractures are devastating, especially of the hip.  The brittle bones of osteoporosis play a role. (Experts debate whether most falls cause the fracture or vice versa.)

Dr. Mary E. Tinetti has studied falls in the elderly for a long time.  In her latest findings, published in the July 17, 2008, New England Journal of Medicine, she notes that previous studies have revealed that in people over 65, falls caused 10 percent of emergency room visits and 6 percent of hospitalizations. They were also a major cause of nursing home placement.

Do you know if you or an elderly family member is at risk? Several factors increase it.

  • Being on multiple medications
  • postural hypotension–blood pressure going down as soon as you get up from sitting or lying down, with resultant dizziness
  • impairments in:
    -cognition (thinking clearly)
    -vision
    -balance
    -gait (walking)
    -strength

Being aware of and treating the above helped prevent falls by 11 percent.

I found an excellent list of practical tips the Colorado State University Extension website.  Please read it if you are close to that age or care for someone who is.  Prevention is key and could safe a lot of misery, or even a life.

Have you fall-proofed your or your loved one’s house?

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2 Responses to “Nancy Reagan falls and fractures pelvis. How to decrease your elderly loved one’s risk.”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    I was very sorry to hear this on the news! It’s too common for the hip to fracture and than for the person to fall down! The prognosis for this is very poor. Thanks for the post on protecting our families!

  2. James Hubbard Says:

    I was sorry also, Dr. J
    Thanks

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