Joint replacement surgery offers patients a number of life-changing benefits. However, as they recover, these patients often need their family members and friends to assist them in accomplishing their daily tasks, providing transportation to and from doctors' appointments, and most of all, giving much needed encouragement throughout the healing process.
Before the patient is discharged, it is important to meet with the physician to get a clear understanding of what post-surgery care and cautions will be necessary to be prepared for prior to the patient's return home.
5 Ways to Prepare for Your Loved One's Joint Replacement Recovery
- Make preparations in the patient's home.
Due to the physical instability and reduced mobility that is common after surgery, you may need to make some changes to the patient's home prior to their arrival.
- Furniture may need rearranged to create the wider walkways necessary for a wheelchair or walker to fit through.
- Throw rugs, clutter, and other trip hazards on the floors will need to be moved or discarded.
- Papers on the edges of countertops and tables should be filed or thrown away to avoid slippery support surfaces.
- Grab bars and a non-slip mat may be necessary in the shower.
- A raised toilet seat may be helpful.
- Make preparations in your schedule.
Caretakers need to realize the amount of time that it may take to perform the necessary duties that lie ahead. You may need to provide recurring daily assistance in areas of grooming, bathing, dressing, toileting, administering medications, and dressing wounds.
Tasks such as grocery shopping, picking up prescriptions, or running to the post office may be impossible for post-surgery patients, so you will need to create time in your schedule to run those errands as well as to provide transportation to doctor and physical therapy appointments.
- Prepare to watch for changes in the patient's condition and behavior.
Many patients who undergo joint replacement surgery have the expectation that life will immediately return to normal after the procedure. So, during the process of recovery when they are still unable to go out and about or do things for themselves, many feel frustrated, depressed, and isolated. In order to reduce these feelings, caretakers should try to keep their loved ones mentally occupied and socially engaged as much as possible during this time. If changes in personality or behaviors persist, take note and consult the physician for further recommendations.
- Prepare to be patient with the patient.
Remember that everyone's healing process is different, so you should never push their loved one past their expressed limits after surgery. Too much activity or strain could cause setbacks on the road to recovery. If the patient is unable or unwilling to follow the instructions of the doctor or physical therapist, have that conversation with the healthcare professional in order to make the adjustments or take other appropriate actions.
- Prepare to take care of yourself, too!
While you are taking care of your loved one, remember to take care of yourself as well. Caregivers need to be at their best – mentally, emotionally, and physically – in order to provide the best care possible for their loved ones. It is important that they get enough rest, eat well, and exercise regularly in order to manage their own stress.
Taking care of a loved one after their joint replacement surgery is not for the faint of heart. So, strive to do as much pre-preparation as possible before the patient comes home to recover, and remember to ask for help when you need it.