Researchers at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) have developed a strategy aimed at preventing falls and fractures for seniors residing in long-term care homes. It calls upon health care teams to improve vitamin D prescribing behaviours ‒ a big ask, but it could lead to a reduction in hip fractures.
We all know the devastating effect of falls and subsequent hip fractures on the elderly. According to the Ontario Osteoporosis Strategy (osteostrategy.on.ca), Canada sees roughly 30,000 osteoporotic hip fractures a year. Prevention is the name of the game, but it depends on proper education for both health care providers and patients. In order for preventative care to be effective, care givers must not only prescribe a treatment, they must also make sure that patients understand and use it.
Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou, a geriatric medicine specialist at Hamilton Health Sciences, has developed a new prevention strategy that aims to ensure that patients are taking appropriate amounts of vitamin D as a pre-emptive measure against osteoporosis. Her strategy is straight-forward: communicate the benefits of vitamin D, and ensure that this knowledge transfer changes practice ‒ that is, making sure that patients actually take the vitamins, which will help their bones to stay strong and prevent falls and fractures.
Dr. Papaioannou’s timing is pivotal, as the number of seniors (age 65+) is projected to more than double from 1.8 million (just over 13% of population) in 2009 to 4.1 million (23%) by 2036. By 2017, for the first time in Ontario’s history, seniors will account for a larger share of the population than children.
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“New Prevention Strategy Improves Prescribing Behaviours and Could Lead to Reduction in Fractures for Elderly”, CAHO Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario, n.d.