R. is home. She’s using a cane or a walker. Her recovery is due to a variety of factors including the fact that her doctor deemed her health very good for a person her age.
Summary of R’s broken hip and recovery:
1. Her broken hip (from a fall) involved a broken femur.
2. Her doctor insisted on a highly experienced orthopedic surgeon who had “good hands” and thus could “get in and out quickly” when putting in the pin. Surgery causes trauma to the body at any age, but more for old people. Less time in the operating room, less blood loss, less anesthesia=less trauma.
3. R came out of the anesthesia quickly. The hospital stay went as planned.
4. First priority when selecting the rehab center: physical therapy team’s reputation. Narrowed to two candidates, the one closest to R’s home was chosen…easier for us to get her daily mail etc. Maintaining her interest in the world outside herself was important.
5. Initially she was helpless, confined to lying on her back, needing to adjust to new routines, people, food, problems. (eg. everyone was given Tums to boost calcium. Tums never agreed with her. Her calcium pills+D needed approval by the rehab center’s doctor which took time. No big deal, but for someone lying in bed it can become a major deal.) Frayed nerves, stressed emotions from pain and the surgery.
6. R quit prescription pain killers once she thought she could handle the pain with an over-the-counter drug. Didn’t want side effects of unnecessary pain killers.
7. Surgeon’s orders: no weight-bearing on the side with the broken hip for 90 days.
8. Physical therapy began immediately with the above restriction.
9. Being the oldest “rehaber” R learned to inform the young therapists when she knew she’d done enough. When she didn’t, she would be too sore to have therapy for a day or more, and she didn’t want to lose ground by foregoing a day of therapy. She knew herself–knew when enough was enough for her at 97.
10. R chose not to eat in the dining room. Older people with bibs or napkins clothes-pinned around their necks to ward off spills was depressing.
11. Once she could sit in a chair–rather than lying in bed–she alternated with sitting, conscious of moving as much as she could each day.
12. 90 days later, new x-rays showed hip healed.
13. Her therapy changed. Able to bear weight on both legs, she had to learn to walk again. Things we do–and she’d done–automatically for decades, she had to relearn.
14. Relearning how to walk, took longer than she anticipated. Some days were discouraging. Suddenly it all began to come together. She was mobile.
15. She’ll stay in her home–no caregiver through choice–with an alert-pendant-necklace (which prior to falling she had refused). This was the one thing we insisted on; she agreed.
16. Scheduled out-patient physical therapy at the rehab center: twice a week. One of us will drive her.
17. We try to help parents age well. We’ve offered our help and will help when asked; but R will “call the shots.”
Disclaimer and note: This should not be construed as medical advice. I am a counselor (not a medical person) wanting to share R’s experience so people realize under the best circumstances an elderly person’s broken hip can heal and one can walk again. While this worked for R., it may not work for everyone.
A Cleveland nurse shares, from her “side of the bed,” the elderly broken-hip experience and family involvement from beginning to end. It’s a good companion to this post.
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