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Hip Surgery, Companionship, Help Seniors Do More

Older adults may become discouraged when their bodies begin to wear out. Family caregivers, too, could feel the effects of these ailments as more of the care begins to fall on them. Family caregivers can encourage their loved ones to seek help and support from pain, no matter what their age.

Q. I'm an 84-year-old widow who has bad hips and my doctor wants to replace them. I feel as though I'm too old for this, though, and I live alone, with no help. What do you suggest?

Listening to the doctor is always your best bet. But here's additional information that could help. According to researchers at Duke University, there is no age limit to the benefits of total hip replacement. What's more, those with osteoarthritis who undergo such a surgery are twice as likely as those who do not to show improvements in physical functioning and increased ability to care for themselves.

"We found that total hip arthroplasty improves everyday life for patients and is as beneficial to people in their 80s or 90s as it is for someone in their 60s," said Linda George, Ph.D., professor of Sociology and associate director of the Duke Center for the Study of Aging. "We know that hip replacements are relatively safe and reports have shown a very high rate of patient satisfaction due to reduced pain and increased range of motion," she added.

What's more, research even revealed a cost savings to the health-care system because reimbursement for the procedure – estimated to be $4,000 to $6,000 – is less costly than the long-term cost of health care for the disabled. Health economists estimate savings associated with a year of a disability-free life at approximately $50,000, including all related health-care costs incurred by disabled patients such as hospital stays, nursing homes and home health care.

Your own reluctance to undergo the procedure, however, is common. Even though there has been an increase in the number of such surgeries in the past 10 years, fewer than 25 percent of patients who could benefit from the procedure elect to receive it.

If you do decide to have the surgery, please ask your doctor about your rehabilitation options. There should be places in your area where you can go to convalesce until you are able to be at home on your own.

Or consider calling a home-care company such as Home Instead Senior Care®. The company, which provides CAREGiversSM to the homes of seniors to help with such tasks as meal preparation, medication reminders, errands and shopping, could provide additional assistance as you convalesce at home.