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Senior Health

When an elderly person sustains an injury

08/13/2007

Question:

I remember reading somewhere that when an elderly person sustains a serious injury, they are near the end of their life (i.e. a leg injury that renders them immobile shortens their life). Is this true? If so, is there something that can be done to prolong their life?

Answer:

Sustaining a serious injury is a challenge at any age. However, older people  experience aging changes that may increase their challenge to heal injuries. But this does not mean that a specific older adult will "be near the end of their life" when sustaining a serious injury. Since there is minimal information in your note, it is difficult to provide specific answers about prolonging someone's life during a time of serious injury. Generally, if the older person is in reasonably good health, eats a healthy diet, maintains adequate hydration, doesn't smoke, and exercises regularly, recovery from serious injury is possible but it may take longer. prolonged inactivity may present more complications due to immobility and/or other impairments. Discuss a recovery program for the older person with the primary health provider so that your concerns about prolonging life are addressed.

If this answer does not provide you with information you wish, please write a more detailed description of the person (age, chronic illnesses, medications, activity level, general state of health etc.) and injury specifics so we can provide a more detailed answer.

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Response by:

Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN Evelyn L Fitzwater, DSN, RN
Associate Professor Emerita
Associate Director of the
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati