The Dangers of Hip Fractures in Dementia

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Hip fractures are unfortunately common in older adults. Osteoporosis often develops as people age and so bones are less likely to remain intact in a fall. Falls are the cause of 95% of hip fractures, and 70% of those hip fractures occur in women.

What Is a Hip Fracture?

A hip fracture is a broken bone in the hip, often in the socket area or at the very top of the femur bone. Most hip fractures require surgery for repair and an extensive recovery often follows.

Hip Fractures in People with Dementia

People with dementia have a higher chance of experiencing a hip fracture. One study found that nursing home residents with dementia were twice as likely to fracture a hip than those who were cognitively intact. People with dementia who live in their own homes and take antipsychotic medications are also more likely to fracture their hips.

Those with dementia who fracture their hip also have a higher likelihood of developing delirium during their hospital stay. If delirium develops, it can lead to longer hospitalizations, poorer recovery in terms of mobility and increased facility care.

The recovery of someone with dementia after a hip fracture can be complicated by memory loss. Often, a weight-bearing limit is placed on someone after surgery and the individual with dementia may not remember that she can't just get up and walk.

Mortality rates (the number of people who pass away) in people who fracture their hip (with or without dementia) are between 12-33% after one year.

When an older adult with Alzheimer's or another dementia experiences a hip fracture, several complications are possible.

  • Less likely to rehabilitate to their previous level of functioning
  • More likely to require ongoing facility care
  • Higher rate of death following a hip fracture
  • More likely to develop pneumonia related to decreased mobility
  • Less likely to receive adequate pain medication, potentially increasing narcotic use when severe hip pain develops

Can a Person with Dementia Recover after a Hip Fracture?

Yes. Although dementia makes it more challenging and decreases the likelihood of full recovery, people can regain their previous level of functioning. Dementia influences the recovery process but research demonstrates that functioning level prior to hip fracture is a stronger predictor of successful rehabilitation than cognitive status.

How Can Hip Fractures Be Prevented?


American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. Hip Fracture Prevention.

The Canadian Review of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. September 2008. Hip Fractures and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Evidence-Based Nursing. People with Alzheimer's disease are at increased risk of hip fracture and of mortality after hip fracture.

Long-Term Living. Study outlines risk factors for poor outcome, mortality after hip fracture.

PLOS ONE. 2013, 8(3): e59124. Incident Hip Fractures among Community Dwelling Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease in a Finnish Nationwide Register-Based Cohort.

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