Question:My father is a very active 87-year old man. But his arthritis has really slowed him down in the last two years. We think he should get a hip replacement. It's possible he could live another 10 years or more. He's not convinced it's worth it. What do the doctors say?
Answer:The number of people of all ages (young and old) getting a total hip replacement (THR) has risen dramatically. This is linked to better techniques, improved surgical tools, and more advanced equipment that have been developed over the last 30 years.
People who were not considered for THR even 10 years ago can now have this operation. Obese, young, and elderly people can now successfully rehab and regain function with a new joint.
But there are some age-related risks that should be understood before having this kind of surgery. Older adults tend to have other health problems that can complicate recovery. Diabetes, cancer or the effects of cancer treatment, and hypertension are just a few of the more common conditions to consider.
Some older adults experience confusion or increased confusion after surgery. So far, we don't know how to predict this or prevent it from happening. Any change in mental function complicates recovery.
For example, the patient may not be able to follow directions. Putting too much weight on the joint or moving the hip too far in one direction can cause it to dislocate. A decline in cognitive function can also slow down the rehab process.
But studies do show that many people 85 and older have had a successful rehab outcome. Their overall function improved after THR. They were able to return to their daily activities. Some can even participate in recreational activities that were impossible before the operation.John E. McDonald, and Michael H. Huo. Total Hip Replacement: Unique Challenges in the Obese and Geriatric Populations. In Current Opinion in Orthopaedics. January 2008. Vol. 19. No. 1. Pp. 33-36.
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