Coming Home After Hip Surgery

hip fractureHip fractures are a relatively common injury to elderly people, especially women from falls and accidents. In many cases, osteoporosis is to blame for the weakened hip bone, but previous conditions such as cancer can also be factors.

In some cases, someone with a hip fracture may still be able to stand or walk, so if you suspect that a fall has lead to a hip fracture, call 911 or go to the hospital immediately for assessment. 

A hip fracture always requires surgery, and in nearly half of cases there will be a full or partial hip replacement involved. The length of time spent in hospital will vary, depending on the outcome of the surgery and any other injuries sustained. Evidence suggests that beginning a rehabilitation promptly after surgery will significantly improve the long-term mobility and quality of life of the patient, so it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for appointments.

Physiotherapy assessments will likely begin while still in hospital. An occupational therapist may also be involved in the discharge programme, in addition to a geriatric nurse. However, when it is time to go home, the patient will still need to continue working with these healthcare professionals in order to regain mobility and prevent future accidents. Needless to say, following a hip replacement an elderly patient will still require support for some time to come, especially for driving to/from appointments and daily household tasks. A caregiver can assist in all the non-medical aspects of this discharge period.

Recovery will involve physiotherapy that may include both weight-bearing and non-weight-bearing exercises, strength training, and balance training. Swimming is a popular exercise for seniors who have osteoporosis or have already undergone hip replacements as it both takes weight off the joints, and also has almost no risk of injury.

While following a rehabilitation exercise programme, your senior loved one is likely to need to assess the accessibility of their living environment, if they are still staying at home. With reduced mobility and increased risk to future falls, some light or even major renovations may be required, such as reducing or eliminating the need for stairs, improving the bathroom and shower so there are handrails and no tripping hazards, and improving the lighting quality in the rooms and hallways to avoid accidents. There are several companies which specialise in improving the accessibility of senior homes, so that a hip fracture doesn’t have to mean the end of independent living, and in addition to the aid of a carer, your senior loved one can continue to enjoy living in their own home.