The second Sunday in May every year, as I am sure you are aware is Mother’s day and this year was no different. Being the dutiful son, my partner – Donna, my dog – Scout and I shouted my mum breakfast. Nothing out of the ordinary, so far.
After we had finished our very enjoyable breakfast, I dropped my mum home and drove the 15 minutes back to my house. 5 minutes after we arrive home, I receive a phone call explaining to me that mum had a fall and was being transported to the hospital by ambulance. We immediately jumped back into the car and head for the hospital where the doctor after viewing the necessary x-rays confirms our worst fears, mum at the age of 86, has broken her hip.
I am sure you will agree this is not the ideal way to end mother’s day. It had never occurred to me that my mum would have a fall and fracture her hip; it was unexpected.
Unfortunately, reality would indicate that for the elderly it is an all too common occurrence.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, close to 50 people in Australia everyday fracture their hip and over half of these people are over the age of 85, so maybe it should not be seen as totally unexpected.
Mum suffered an osteoporotic hip fracture, as a result of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a common disease affecting over 1 million Australians. It occurs when bones lose minerals, such as calcium at a greater rate than the body can replace them. This leads to a loss of bone thickness which causes the bones to become brittle increasing the risk of fractures.
So how could have mum prevented osteoporosis? She may not have prevented it but she may have delayed the onset if she had:
- Increased her calcium intake, by eating the right foods – dairy is the obvious choice; milk; yoghurt; tinned sardines; almonds; dried figs and apricots; broccoli; silverbeet; celery. These are just a few examples, the list is quite long
- Vitamin D could have improved mum’s bones. The main source of vitamin D is an exposure to sunlight. This, of course, needs to be balanced ensuring we do risk our skin to overexposure and the increased risk of skin cancer
- Regular physical activity and exercise also play a part in maintaining and improving bone density. It should involve weight-bearing exercise such as brisk walking, tennis, dancing and jogging if you are able. Also, do not forget to include some resistance training as well i.e. lifting weights this not only helps to prevent osteoporosis it slows muscle wastage helping to maintain muscle mass.
All very reasonable when you think about it.
However, more importantly, mum was prepared for her unexpected fall, subsequent fracture and no doubt her lengthy stay in hospital in other ways – mum had appointed me her Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA)
A copy of the EPOA had been provided to her bank and to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which meant that I am able to enquire on her behalf at the bank and pay most of her bills online without her having to worry about the difficulties of paying these from her hospital bed.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, who pay mum a war widow’s pension, also have a copy of the EPOA ensuring that I have the ability to ask questions on her behalf and notify the department of any changes in her circumstances.
Last and certainly not least the EPOA provides me with an authority to make decisions about her future care needs, I am hoping that this will not be necessary at this stage.
So, even though we were not expecting mum to fall and fracture her hip, we were prepared by ensuring an EPOA was in place. It is an extremely important legal document that all elderly people should have in place.
* If you are inspired by what I am telling you please do consult with your own doctor before changing your diet and starting an intense training program.
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