My grandmother’s broken hip was never repaired thus her last 7 years of life consisted of lying in her bed in a long-term care home. Her life was fractured as well as her family’s as they supported her through her final years. For Grammie, her fracture meant leaving the family home with its wide veranda next door to her kids and entering “the Mount”. Now family visits consisted of cramming into a dim, shared room with interruptions by staff and other residents all while trying to avert your eyes from Grammie’s misaligned leg under the covers, her increasing dementia and her institutional existence.
(Lana, nurse and granddaughter, 2020)
Fractures in the elderly change lives.
The fracture changes the life of the individual, even if you ignore the pain of the fracture and its possible surgery and rehabilitation, a fracture brings loss of mobility, independence and increased risk of mortality. For the families, this fracture extracts both emotional and practical pain. The families witness the pain and recovery of the fracture to their loved one and also must plan how now to support them going forward. Do they need to move? Do they need home care staff? What rehabilitation and support devices are needed? Do Mom and Pop need to live separately? Can they afford any of these? If they move, where? Is there room for them in their community care home?
Preventing fractures prevents pain.
After a first fragility fracture, the risk of a subsequent fracture approximately doubles, and any new fractures are most likely to occur within the next 2 years. With effective osteoporosis medications, such fractures can often be prevented. Unfortunately, it has been documented that less than 20% of Canadians who suffer a fracture ever get diagnosed and/or receive treatment for their underlying osteoporosis.
FLS (Fracture Liaison Service) is, by far, the best method of ensuring that fracture patients receive the osteoporosis care they need. It will identify patients at the time of their very first fracture, organize any needed investigations, and where warranted, facilitate the initiation of effective medication. FLS has been proven to reduce the incidence of secondary fractures. Unfortunately, there are very few FLSs in Canada.
World Osteoporosis Day is October 20, 2020 and this year’s theme is the impact of fractures on family members. Help keep your family safe and support the implementation of an FLS at your nearest orthopaedic hospital. For more information on FLS, please go to https://fls.osteoporosis.ca or contact Lschenkels@osteoporosis.ca.