Elderly Broken Hip Summary: Surgery, Rehab, Full Recovery, Now Home Alone–Part 4

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.

Click Tab Below Header or “Related”  Below For All Broken Hip Recovery Posts

“Newsworthy” (right sidebar) links to timely information and research from top universities,
and respected professionals–plus some practical stuff–to help parents age well.

6 thoughts on “Elderly Broken Hip Summary: Surgery, Rehab, Full Recovery, Now Home Alone–Part 4

  1. I have the same with my mother at the moment who also fractured her hip and what makes it difficult is she is in London and I am in oz, I have a sister and brother who are there but I feel so helpless and I ring her most days but today she sounded so down as normally she likes to get out and about and although it’s getting better it’s still going to be sometime before she is going to be able to be mobile again.

    • Far-away living children bring joy simply by the sound of their voice on the phone…especially at times like this. While it’s difficult for your mother and for you (for different reasons), you are actually in the unique position of giving her undivided attention and showing caring as you listen to her frustrations. Having someone who really cares listen to our woes, is a gift in itself. You may not be there physically, but you are there for your mother–making a significant contribution.

  2. Hi, My name is Reggie. I’m 78 and my wife is 91. She fell and broke her right hip Friday, April 20th 2012 and was operated on Saturday, April 21st. I’ve read so much about the short life span of one who breaks a hip, it is refreshing to read your blog. My wife is now recovering in a nursing and rehab facility. Thanks for the encouragment

    • Thanks for writing, Reggie. Breaking a hip isn’t the end of the road–we know that. It has been our experience.

      With best wishes to your wife for the willpower to do as much as is allowed–and once she can put weight on the hip, to use a wheelchair only when absolutely necessary IF HER DOCTOR APPROVES.

  3. I googled “97 yr old hip surgery” and came across your chronical and I am very hopeful! My 97-yr old great-grandmother fell last night and broke the top part of her femur. The tenacity of the person you describe in the story sounds like you could be talking about my great-grandmother so I am hoping that tenacity comes out during recovery.

    She is a very healthy, basically independent woman … she takes no regular medications for any health conditions and she has no known health problems other than some minor chronic mouth pain. She has never smoked and eats a relatively healthy diet.

    Keep her in your thoughts for me, and I will do the same for you. 🙂

    • I’m holding good thoughts for your great-grandmother, Jennifer, and for you. Having a goal was so important for my mother-in-law. The surgeon said no weight-bearing for 90 days. Her first goal was to do all she could (eating, vitamins, phys. therapy) so when she had her 90-day doctor appointment he would be pleased and she could move forward.

      In retrospect she says she didn’t realize what a long haul it would be (and that was good!); that it takes great patience and she had to give herself a pep talk from time to time so she wouldn’t get discouraged. That said, she’s doing well now–walking very upright with her cane, going out for lunch and dinner with us, loving being home by herself. A neighbor’s 14-year-old brings her mail from the mailbox at the end of her driveway each day–for her h.s. volunteer service project.

      Hope the update is helpful. Feel free to contact me on my gmail (see contact tab). Susan

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