There are some calls that I love to receive… and others that truly break my heart. There are many, many times in which a family I have worked with for a long time (and helped buy and sell many homes) comes to me with some news: “Bobbi, I need your help, mom broke her hip and we need to sell her home and move her to a place without stairs.” While I wish I could say that these calls are few and far between, the reality is that over 300,000 individuals experience a hip fracture each year (according to the CDC). Yet a new study from Johns Hopkins finds that a broken hip is more than the result of a tumble and aging bones or the effects of osteoporosis.
In the recent study published in PLOS ONE, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered that the majority of older adults hospitalized for hip fractures also had biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease in their spinal fluid. This was true even in cases where patients had no previous diagnosis and no clinical signs of dementia.
The belief is that brain changes in older adults contribute to poor balance, and that an increased risk of Alzheimer’s is associated with an increased risk of falling. This is by no means intended to serve as one more thing to fear, but one more connection to consider and one more topic of discussion for all of us as we age and communicate with our health care team. Moreover, this explains a common effect seen after hip fracture surgery known as postoperative delirium; this severe state of confusion that has been recorded after surgery can hinder rehabilitation efforts, and now may be explained by undiagnosed Alzheimer’s in some of the patients who experience it.
Should you assume that a broken hips means Alzheimer’s? Or that any confusion after surgery is a reason to fear future memory and cognitive declines? No! But it is worthwhile to chat with your doctor about the causes of falls, the causes of post-operative confusion and what we can do to improve the experience of older adults on both counts.
Read more: Hip Fractures May Signal Alzheimer’s
All my best,
Bobbi Decker & Associates fully supports the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. For more information, please visit: http://portal.hud.gov/