Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

CHECK OUT OUR
NEW IPAD APP!

ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Commented

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

How to Survive a Hip Fracture

Hip fractures kill tens of thousands every year. Here's how to survive one

En español | Eight years after Isabelle Jackson fell and broke her hip, she retains two vivid memories of the aftermath. The first is the pain, which was excruciating. The retired schoolteacher from Hannibal, Missouri, now 91, also remembers thinking about her sister, who had fractured her hip and spent the remaining six years of her life in a wheelchair. "I was determined not to be like my sister," says Jackson, who today walks with no assistance and without a limp.

See also: Bionic boomers.

The statistics put Jackson in a select minority: those who not only survive a hip fracture but thrive after one. Of the 300,000 Americans 65 or older who fracture a hip each year, 20 to 30 percent will die within 12 months, and "many more will experience significant functional loss," according to a 2009 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Indeed, a year after fracturing a hip, 90 percent of those who needed no assistance climbing stairs before the fracture will not be able to climb five stairs; 66 percent won't be able to get on or off a toilet without help; 50 percent won't be able to raise themselves from a chair; 31 percent won't be able to get out of bed unassisted; and 20 percent won't be able to put on a pair of pants by themselves.

But what makes a hip fracture so deadly — and so debilitating? And how can a seemingly healthy person experience such a dramatic decline from what is essentially a broken bone? The answers have less to do with the break itself than with the response to the break, not just in the hours immediately following but also in the weeks and months post-injury.

Not surprisingly, most young people who fall don't break a hip. But as we age and our bones weaken, a fall that our children or grandchildren might walk away from could put us in the hospital, facing major surgery. That surgery carries risks, yet so does the immobility caused by a broken hip. When you're bedridden and hospitalized, your odds of everything from bedsores to pneumonia increase dramatically.

As people age, they also experience what doctors call comorbidity — multiple ailments at the same time. "Most older adults have at least one chronic condition, such as diabetes or heart problems. Many have two. Then they fall and break a hip. Their whole system is thrown into a tizzy," says Lynn Beattie, vice president of injury prevention for the Center for Healthy Aging in Washington, D.C.

Next: Improve your odds of recovery. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf

VISIT THE HEALTH SECTION

Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do