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Friday, 4 February, 2000, 00:39 GMT
Elderly fear life after hip fracture

Fears are unfounded say charities

Elderly women fear breaking their hips more than cancer or having a heart attack, research suggests.

Australian researchers questioned 194 women aged over 75 and discovered that four out of five of them would "rather die" than face the prospect of disability and being placed in a nursing home.

The results of the survey carried out by the University of Sydney and the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital in New South Wales, have been published in the British Medical Journal.

The authors said that any loss of ability to live independently in the community had a "significant detrimental effect" on quality of life of elderly women.

Hip replacements can make the world of difference ...
And they outlined that comparing their data with other studies suggested that the fear of hip fracture was higher than fear of breast cancer, heart attack, or minor

Author Mr Glenn Salkeld said that hip fractures are a major cause of morbidity and mortality, and almost all occur after a fall.

The researchers therefore concluded that any steps which could be taken to prevent falls in the elderly would "not only save lives but prevent a significant reduction in their quality of life".

But charities for the elderly say that the fears of the women surveyed are not well-founded.

A spokeswoman for Age Concern England said that hip replacement operations could, and often did, make the world of difference to patients.

She said: "There are issues surrounding waiting lists for operations, but people who have had hip replacements have regained most if not all of their mobility and have full and active lives.

"We would also say that if people are incapacitated and need to move to a nursing home, that's not all bad news either.

"People are quite often afraid of what that kind of change in their lives will mean, but often they find that they like where they are living very much.

"Certainly, women should not feel that a broken hip would effectively end their lives."

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See also:
30 Nov 99 |  Health
Bone and joint diseases threaten financial crisis
07 Sep 99 |  Health
Hip replacement demand 'to double'
28 Apr 99 |  Health
Sunshine 'cure' for hip fractures
15 Apr 99 |  Health
'Hip replacements for all'

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