Fractures in late life are highly consequential for health, services use, and spending, however, little is known about trends in extremity fracture hospitalizations among older adults in the United States. Although trauma-related death and disability is most common among young and working-age Americans, older adults comprise approximately 30% of trauma hospitalizations. While both injurious falls and osteoporotic hip fractures have been topics of intense, longstanding study, the broader epidemiology of other types of fractures among older adults is not well understood.
In a study published in the American Geriatric Society, women were found to be comparatively more likely than men to be hospitalized with an extremity fracture and though the overall incidence of fracture hospitalizations has declined over time, the decline is more pronounced among women. This is the first national study to examine trends in extremity fracture hospitalizations among older adults. The study also found that although the incidence of extremity fracture hospitalizations declined over the last 15 years for both older men and women, approximately 80% of fracture hospitalizations were due to lower extremity fractures, which are particularly disabling due to weight bearing restrictions and need for assistive devices.
Although the number of fractures continue to decline, the absolute number of fractures will likely increase with population aging, especially among men, unless more preventive interventions are initiated. When was the last time you really looked at the fall prevention interventions for those residents in your center who are at high risk for falls. At the end of the day, it only takes one fall with injury to change a resident’s life forever. Consider engaging your team in a fall prevention marathon, review care plans, talk to residents, look for trends for both falls and types of injuries and set your goals high! Stay well, stay informed and stay tuned!