Hip Fractures Need Special Care

Recovery can be uncomfortable in summer heat

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SUNDAY, June 27, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Hip fractures are a very common, yet serious problem that can afflict the elderly. Recovery can be especially uncomfortable in the heat of the summer.

About 320,000 hospitalizations result each year from hip fractures, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, yet only one in four patients recover completely.

Patients often wind up on crutches or using a walker and needing to do physical therapy exercises. And because the body's ability to respond to summer heat decreases with age, such exertions can make surviving the heat even more of a challenge.

If medications are being taken or if there is other illness causing poor blood circulation or fever, the risk for heat stress or other heat-related illness can further increase.

Signs that a person may be experiencing heat-related illness include headache, nausea, muscle spasms and fatigue after exposure to heat, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

If an elderly person reports such symptoms, it's important to get them to a cool place, preferably one that is air-conditioned. They should be offered fluids (not containing alcohol or caffeine), and encouraged to shower, bath or cool off with water, says the NIA.

It's always important to make sure elderly people recovering from hip fractures have access to transportation, but it's especially important in weather conditions of extreme heat or cold, in case air conditioning or heat sources are not available or fail to function.

Transportation services are available in many communities through agencies, religious groups and senior citizen centers. People without fans or air conditioners can sometimes find relief in shopping malls, movie theaters or libraries.

More information

You can read more about hip fractures through the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

SOURCES: National Institute on Aging; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

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