Increased Broken Bones Among Boomers Is Precursor Of Future Long-Term Care Needs

A new study suggests that the number of baby boomers visiting hospital emergency rooms for broken arms could rise by nearly a third by 2030.  That is when the youngest baby boomers will have just turned 65.

The scientists reported that 370,000 cases of fractures in the humerus bone of the upper arm occur each year in both the United States.  While younger individuals between the ages of five and nine accounted for the highest overall number of breaks, they found that arm injuries also spiked among women after age 40 and men after age 60.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, reported that 38.7 million Americans were 65 or older in 2008, but that by the year 2030, that number will be 71.5 million. They project a significant increase in hospital emergency room visits with much of the increase likely to be among older Americans.

The highest number of proximal humerus breaks was seen in both men and women after age 45, and rates kept rising until about age 84.  Women were more than twice as likely as men to suffer a proximal humerus break, and saw an uptick in the breaks earlier in life, starting after age 40, which the researchers attributed to lost bone density.

“Conditions like osteoporosis will increases a person’s likelihood of sustaining a bone fracture as a result of even a simple fall,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  “Some can be fixed with a cast but other broken bones especially those that occur at older ages will require long periods of care and at could seriously disable a person for long periods of time.”

Indeed, the researchers found that 88 percent of upper-arm breaks were caused by falls, prompting them to call for more rigorous safety measures to reduce falls and better treatments to prevent osteoporosis.

“Prevention is vital, but so is planning for living a long life,” Slome explains.  “If you live into your 80s or beyond, the likelihood you will need long term care is vastly increased but you need to start preparing for this in your 50s and early 60s when the most planning options are still available to you.”

For more information on long term care insurance, visit the Association’s Consumer Information Center at .  To read a free online guide about reducing costs for long-term care insurance go to long term care insurance costs.

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