The news that Nancy Reagan, 87, was admitted Monday to a California hospital with pelvis and lower spine fractures serves as a reminder of how serious a fall can be for the elderly. Reagan reportedly broke her pelvis and sacrum (a large bone at the bottom of the spine) when she got up in the middle of the night last week and fell after twisting her leg. According to news reports, she will not need surgery but is undergoing physical therapy and will likely require a six-to-eight-week recovery time.
As U.S. News previously reported, falling is the biggest risk factor for a fracture in older adults, and hip fractures, in particular, can be very dangerous. The one-year mortality rate after a hip fracture is as high as 25 percent. So, argue researchers in an analysis published in the medical journal BMJ, prevention should include avoiding falls, not just treating osteoporosis with drugs. U.S. News's Katherine Hobson recently explained how seniors can use exercise to prevent falls.