Older Adults Face Severe Risks from Broken Bones
Think about how many ways you can potentially break your bones in any given day. When you really get down to it, it’s incredible that we’re designed to be so resilient because there’s the potential for physical injury at every turn.
“50 is the new 30” sounds like a great slogan, and people are definitely aging better today, in many ways, compared to decades ago. That said, while our physical activity levels have changed, our bones have not. Aging adults are still more easily susceptible to personal injury from accidents they would have quickly bounced back from in their younger years.
Why the risk of death is very real
It’s somewhat common knowledge that breaking a hip or vertebra can be a death sentence for the elderly because of the elevated risk of pneumonia and complications while they are convalescing. However, that’s not the only issue. A new study in Denmark has shown adults 50 and older have a 25 percent increased risk of death from other types of breaks.
When it comes to broken hips specifically, that risk is present for a period of 10 years after a hip fracture. Other bone breaks can also place you in an extended risk category, but no one knows for how long at this point, although the data does seem to show the first year after a break substantially increases the risk of death.
The study paints a pretty grim picture of survival rates for both men and women over the age of 50. The data showed a death rate for women of approximately 45 percent while men were at 50 percent. Those are sobering statistics when you take into account the fact that balance and eyesight issues can also contribute to falls as we age.
Common bones to break coinciding with increased risk of death include:
- Femur or pelvic fractures – increased risk by 20-25 percent
- Vertebral fractures – increased risk by 10 percent
- Upper arm bone, clavicle or rib – increased risk by 5 – 10 percent
- Lower-leg break – increased risk by 3 percent for a period of five years
The specific links to other health issues coupled with bone breaks causing early death have not been determined. It is believed that this issue could be related to co-morbidities such as diabetes or heart disease, though more research is being conducted.
Who might be liable for your broken bones
People are so much more active later in life than in the past. Maybe it’s because we’re retiring earlier and focus on interests we didn’t have time to delve into before now.
However, the risk of breaking a bone is very real. On a daily basis, you might trip over the family dog, trip and fall while hiking, get thrown from a bike, or just step wrong and smash into the wall in an attempt to brace yourself. There are plenty of accidents that can cause bones to break, but who might be ultimately responsible for those other instances that land you in a cast?
You can be injured on someone else’s property
Landlords who rent to the 50-plus crowd might want to take more precautions. When you cater to individuals with an increased risk for injury, you may owe a higher duty of care to maintain the premises for older or elderly tenants or guests because broken bones can shorten their lives. If there are tripping or slip and fall hazards in common areas or anywhere else the landlord or management company is required to maintain, they may find a premises liability claim in their future if the owners fail to properly safeguard those areas.
Important safety features include:
- Non-slip rugs and tightly woven carpet
- Step-in showers with non-slip surfaces
- Grab-bars in bathrooms to help with stability
- Unobstructed walkways to prevent stumbling
- Single-level accommodations for balance challenges
- Properly paved parking areas
Whether you are leasing a place to live long-term or just vacationing, it’s important to avoid injuries that can lead to even a hairline fracture that could shave years off your life.
If you are older and have been injured due to a mishap that was someone else’s fault, you need help to ensure that you receive the proper care to reduce your risk of death. Schedule your free case evaluation today with one of our experienced Atlanta personal injury attorneys at Harris Lowry Manton LLP. We invite you to call our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, or to reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.
One of the nation’s top trial attorneys, Jeff Harris is an award-winning litigator who handles high-profile, complex cases across a wide variety of practice areas. He excels at securing justice for clients who have been seriously injured or killed, holding responsible parties accountable for their actions as well as their negligence.
Read more about Jeffrey R. Harris here.