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How to Survive a Hip Fracture

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

Exercise every day. "Bones heal better when they are used," just so long as the bones are stabilized, says Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., director of the Musculoskeletal Research Center at the Instutute for Aging Research at Hebrew SeniorLife in Boston. "Any sort of weight-bearing activity can stimulate the bone to heal." Just start slowly, and gradually increase the amount of weight you place on the hip.

illustration of person falling and breaking a hip

Exercise can help your bones heal. — Illustration by Stuart Bradford

Pay close attention to diet. "Take in enough protein to build up muscles," syas Kiel, "and enough calcium and vitamin D for your bones to gain strength." A recent study found that those who consumed fewer than 46 grams of protein a day suffered 50 percent more hip fractures than those who ate more protein. You'll also need at least 1,200 milligrams a day of calcium (the equivalent of three to four servings daily of milk, yogurt, or other calcium-rich foods) and 600 to 800 international units of vitamin D, either in supplement form or from fortified foods or daily exposure to sunlight.

Socialize. The contact feeds on itself. More social interaction leads to a stronger desire to get out of the house, which provides more impetus for better self-care. "Staying home is not the answer," says League. "it's about staying engaged."

Keep at it. "Therapy was a lot of work," says Isabelle Jackson, who, after a week in a hospital and nearly two months of supervised physical therapy, relied on a daily dose of short walks and volunteer activities to restore her physical and mental well-being. "You have to make up your mind that you are going to do it. It's all about attitude."

You may also like: 6 simple ways to prevent falls. >>

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