Facts by Age Groups

80s and Older

What’s Happening – Increasing Risk of Falls and Bone Breaks

Falls rise precipitously at this age. Hip fractures occur with increasing frequency in both men and women as a result. Over 90% of hip fractures in this age group are caused by a fall sideways onto the hip. With a sideways fall if your shoulder happens to hit the ground first that is what breaks instead. Although falls are called “accidents,” they are predictable and preventable.

Hip, shoulder, and spine fractures are the most common. The rate of wrist fractures in women decrease. Reflexes decrease with age, so you don’t get your arm out as fast and another part of the body hits first. If you do break your wrist, it may mean you actually more fit than your peers in this age group.

Women with a hip fracture are at a 4-fold greater risk of a second hip fracture. Though men suffer fewer fractures, the 1-year death rate following hip fracture is 33%. Women do better but it is still high at about 20%.

Almost half of the women who break their hip have had a previous broken bone. Having a fracture over the age of 50 puts you at high risk to have subsequent fracture. High-risk individuals can effectively decrease their risk so another one does not happen.

Bone Health Tips for Your 80s

As the saying goes, aging is not for sissies. You have to work hard to improve muscle strength, posture and balance to decrease the risk of falls. You can wage an effective battle against the changes of aging with maintaining a healthy lifestyle and weight in a healthy range. Exercise is truly a foundation of youth.

In those of who have had a fracture, the goals are to promote return to optimal function and prevention of future fractures. A comprehensive treatment plan is paramount to stopping at one fracture. A review of your other medical problem and illnesses, all your medicines both other-the-counter and prescriptions, supplements along with lifestyle habits may reveal additional risk factors for fractures that are modifiable.

If you have osteoporosis or have had a fracture, your treatment options include FDA-approved osteoporosis medicines that are effective in lowering your risk of fracture. Fall prevention and exercise interventions improve balance and decrease the risk of fractures.

Bone healthy measures for your 80s include:

1. Calcium

  • Recommended calcium intake is 1200 milligrams a day for both men and women.
  • Try to cover the recommended amount from food sources.
  • If you fall short, do a menu makeover or use a dietary supplement.

2. Vitamin D

  • Recommendations continue at 800 IU per day with no more than 4000 IU per day.
  • Diet may not supply sufficient vitamin D; a supplement to diet may be needed.

3. Diet

  • Eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of protein, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Be careful about salt intake; restrict sodium to less than 1500 milligrams a day.

4. Exercise

  • Keep moving.
  • Exercises and activities should be high enough intensity to challenge you.

Work on balance and core strength to prevent falls.