A New Breakthrough Guideline Developed To Help Reduce Fractures In Seniors
By Justin Cowart
A brand new guideline has been developed that aims to help prevent fractures in residents of long-term care facilities for frail seniors, their families and the health care workers.
The guideline was published in the CMAJ, which is the Canadian Medical Association Journal and was developed with direct input from the residents of the care facilities and their families, along with additional input from health care professionals and researchers.
Seniors who are living in long-term care homes typically have a two to four-fold risk of sustaining a fracture, particularly when compared to adults of similar age who are residing in the community.
Fractures can have a significant impact on the general quality of a person’s life, even rendering people completely immobile, which can lead to an early death. It has been difficult to determine which seniors are at the most risk due to many varying conditions such as poor kidney function and dementia, both of which can hinder a risk assessment.
Professor of Medicine and geriatrics with Hamilton Health Sciences, Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou says,
“Our goal is to reduce the number of fractures and associated pain as well as to avoid transfers to hospitals to treat these injuries. Fractures reduce quality of life for people and can result in early death.”
This 2015 guideline, which is strongly based on current evidence, continues to build on the 2010 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Osteoporosis in Canada, which was originally focused on people who were living within the community and at the time, did not include this frail group of seniors.
Dr. Papaioannou states that,
“What is different about these guidelines is that we involved long-term care facility residents and family members in developing the recommendations. It is important that residents are involved in decision making around fracture management and that these decisions consider a person’s health conditions and life expectancy.”
When insight was taken from the family members of the residents, maintaining mobility and managing pain were the top priorities they had for their loved ones who resided in the communities.
The guideline focuses on weighing the risks and benefits of each recommendation for their frail seniors, taking into account the various health conditions, such as the ability to swallow and maintaining kidney function.
The top 5 different tips for helping to prevent fractures in older adults are:
- Making sure to maintain adequate vitamin D and calcium intake.
- Ensuring to take osteoporosis medications as prescribed.
- If indicated, wearing hip protectors.
- Making sure to exercise on a regular basis.
- Putting into place individually tailored interventions that may reduce fall risks.
For Seniors and Their Caregivers
The Risk Factors
Try talking to your health care provider if you are ever concerned about becoming frail, or if you are caring for someone who has become frail. Remember, it is always important to help determine if you or your loved ones are at risk of fractures and falling. If you have had a fracture already, it may mean that the risk of another is much higher.
Nutrition And Vitamin Supplementation
To help prevent fractures, you may want to consider taking vitamin D and calcium supplements. Osteoporosis Canada goes on to recommend 1200 mg calcium intake through your diet and if this type of requirement is not met through ingesting food, then you may want to consider 500 mg calcium supplements per day. For older adults their vitamin D intake should be between 800 to 2000 international units or (IU).
Plenty Of Exercise
If you utilize regular balance and strength exercises, it can help to greatly reduce your risk of sustaining a debilitating fall. For example, resistance training and weight-bearing exercise including Tai Chi are all great and effective ways to help maintain your strength and to also help you keep more balanced. Remember though, it it always important to consult your healthcare provider to identify the safest ways for you to exercise.
What are hip protectors, exactly? They are a specialized type of clothing that contains pads that go around the hip and leg area. They are basically like air bags for your hips and legs to help prevent hip fractures following a fall.
Make sure that your living environment is as safe for you as possible to help prevent any falls. Walk bars and anti-slip shoes can help make a huge difference in helping keep you safe.
The authors of this new guideline say that,
“The goals of fracture prevention are to prevent pain, loss of mobility, serious injury and transfers to acute care and ultimately to maximize opportunities for quality living among long-term care residents.”
With this new Canadian guideline being consistent with recommendations to help prevent fractures in Australian residential aged care facilities and from the American Medical Directors Association, I strongly believe that we can help alleviate huge issues that plague our elderly.
They are elderly for a reason, they have already spent quite a bit of time here on earth and it would be nice for the younger generations to ensure that they continue to live out the rest of their days without worry of falling and breaking anything, while also continuing to have the best mobility that they can have.
What are your opinions and thoughts about this topic? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Justin Cowart is a writer and researcher that loves to learn more about health, life, consciousness and making the world a better place. He loves music, traveling, meditation, video games and spending time with family and friends. He believes in baby steps and lifestyle changes in order to live a full life. In 2014, he lost around 40lbs from baby steps and emotional detoxing.
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