Broken Hip: 97-year-old’s Fall, Surgery, Rehab, Amazing Recovery Chronicled–Part 1 (of 4)

97-year-old Recovers and Regains Independence After Fall and Broken Hip–Part 1

For everyone fearful of…caring for…or recovering from…a broken hip,  Help! Aging Parents chronicles Senior Advisor R’s fall, her “rescuers,” surgical considerations, rehab highlights and insights, and lastly her preparation for returning home.  She will go home with an alert pendant, a cane, and a walker for going out when anticipating a great deal of walking. No caregiver.

What follows may repeat snip-its from earlier posts.  But the chronology and additional information make it hang together better.  A recap of R’s experience is also a helpful frame of reference for those going through this not-for-sissies/prima-donnas experience.

Part 1: The Fall, the Rescuers (911 and doctors)

R. didn’t have an alert pendant. In late September as she walked from her bedroom to the kitchen, she noticed her twice-a-month cleaning help had moved something on the desk she was passing. She reached around to reposition it, realized she was losing balance, grabbed the nearest chair, but it wasn’t heavy enough to support her weight, and they both fell on the carpet.

R recalls she grabbed at a table leg thinking she’d pull herself up. One side of her body would not move. She knew immediately she couldn’t get up. That ad, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” for the first time resonated, R, said.

The next 3 hours were spent inching her way back 31 feet to the bedroom, and a telephone.  She rolled over on her stomach and with her arms in front “kinda pulled her knees and body along.” Her knees sustained carpet burns, one of which is still not completely healed.

The phone, on a table, was too far to reach from the floor, but there was a waste basket nearby.  R grabbed it, was able to reach up and, after repeated attempts, knocked the phone out of the cradle. “Very hard work,” she says. She phoned a nephew, who drove to her home, called the doctor, got the answering service, who told him to call 911.

Paramedics came immediately. First 2, then more to make certain her condition was stable then to place her on the gurney and transport her to the hospital designated by her primary care doctor (who by this time had been contacted).

Now in the “right” hospital, the next step was the “right” surgeon, for this 97-year-old, with a broken femur. R’s primary care doctor was insistent on one particular orthopedic surgeon who had “technical excellence” and “good hands.”  Why? “Surgery is a trauma to the body. It is not tolerated as well in the elderly as in the young,” according to R’s highly regarded doctor.  “It’s important to get in, get out, do a quick job with less anesthesia, less blood loss, less time in the operating room.  That means less trauma.”

Clearly these early steps cleared the way for R’s ultimate excellent recovery and gave us far-away-living children (one of us was out here almost all the time) confidence that–in terms of helping parents age well–we were on the right track. To be continued on next post 1/18/11.

Help! Aging Parents is again a finalist in  the “Best Senior Living Blogs by Individuals.” Thanks to all who voted. Click 2014 badge at right to see and link to all finalist blogs. 


Smart Elders Who Reject Alert Pendants, Thinking They’re Careful and Won’t Fall–Wrong, sadly!

Independence vs. Broken Hip

We try to help parents age well and we’re aware of the statistics.  After 65 the chances of a fall increase; ditto the damage which  increases as people’s bones become more  brittle.  Down the line we realize that many people age, and suddenly look more fragile.

So I write yesterday’s planned post today, from a rehab center where my 97-year-old mother-in-law and a senior advisor, R, is recovering after falling 10 days ago in her home and having surgery to put a pin in her broken hip.

R. (hover over senior advisor tab above for her “bio”), like many older people fortunate to have (as she calls it) “a good brain,” values her independence above all. She took precautions to prevent falling in her home and has never hesitated to gracefully ask for help (your arm) when she feels unsteady.  She never dreamed she would fall in her home and thus, rejected the idea of a pendant that would alert someone she needed help.

The result: she fell in her living room, while walking to the kitchen, having noticed a decorative object on a desk had been moved by her every-other-week cleaning person.  She reached to move it, lost her balance, and grabbed a nearby chair.  But it wasn’t heavy enough to hold her. Both fell on the carpet. The next three hours were spent pulling her body with her arms across the carpet to a telephone; she called a nephew; he called 911.

I share R’s experience to help aging parents and others who live alone and resist “alert button” bracelets or necklaces. While they don’t prevent falls, they do prevent skinned knees from carpet burns, pain, and possible further hip damage from trying to get to a telephone…and worse. And they needn’t be worn all the time.

Indeed, a woman in her mid-80’s who shares an apartment with her son in the northeast, only wears the bracelet when she enters her Florida apartment–where she live alone in the winter.  She says she leaves the bracelet near the door and puts it on the minute she enters that apartment.

While we do our best to help our aging parents, the odds can catch up with even the most smart, independent and remarkable seniors….evident from the older people with broken hips in this rehab center.  We can only try to reduce the damage. Perhaps R’s experience can provide an opening for discussion with older parents who live alone and refuse–or don’t use–those “alarm button” pendants.

Aging Parents–Fall, Broken Hip, Post Delayed

Sorry–Still away and unable to write a substantive post.  It’s especially frustrating because senior advisor, R, less than a week ago fell, broke her hip, had surgery and is now in a care facility for two weeks of rehab, as I understand it.

You know from reading about her (click Senior Advisors tab; see sidebar), that she’s my mother-in-law and is remarkable.  Although I’m presently on the West Coast, I’m flying out to help her tomorrow and will relate her experience.

It’s instructive, which is the purpose of this blog.  There’s also a definite tie-in to last week’s posts that I want to share as soon as I’m certain I have correct details and dependable internet access.

Until Saturday, when I should have internet access—-