Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hip FAQ

Question:

My grandmother, who was a happy, independent woman, died after she broke her hip when she was 82. She just went from being herself to a shell. I'm told that happens but why?

Answer:

A broken hip can be devastating for anyone, particularly a senior. When someone breaks any bone, there are the issues of pain, and so on. But when a hip is broken, mobility also becomes a big problem. And, as people age, their bones may not heal as well as when they were younger, and the seniors may have other health issues as well, which can make recovery more difficult. After having surgery for a broken hip, there is a lot of pain that can make it difficult to move around. Or, they may have had some difficulty from the anesthetic as this is a shock to their system. As people don't move around, they don't have much of an appetite. If they don't eat well, they become malnourished and this can affect their healing. If they aren't moving around or eating, they may not move their bowels and constipation can become a big problem. If someone can't move on their own and depend on others to help them to the bathroom, they may not get to the bathroom on time and they may start soiling themselves. This can lead to skin breakdown and it can lead to shame and withdrawal from other people. As people don't move, their muscles get weaker and their body gets weaker - and the cycle has begun. While this all sounds very depressing, it doesn't always happen. Many elderly people break a hip and do quite well afterwards. But it's very important to be sure that they get good medical and follow up care to help increase their chances of recovery. Kevin Kaplan, MD, et al. Surgical Management of Hip Fractures: An Evidence-based Review of the Literature. II: Intertrochanteric Fractures. In Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. November 2008. Vol. 16. no. 11. Pp. 665-673.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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