8 Tips for Post-Operative Care For Seniors At Home
Getting surgery done is a stressful decision despite the positive outcomes it can bring. For seniors, it is even more difficult because of slow healing and increased risk of complications. Post-operative care for seniors is an extremely important step for a successful and healthy recovery. Once they are discharged from the hospital, at-home care can become an intimidating task for family caregivers.
What steps can caregivers take to make post-operative care and experience better?
- Check what’s needed at home: Hospital stays can be very stressful, and it is common for caregivers to suffer from burnouts due to exhaustion. Checking to see what amenities or post surgery clothing will be needed at home when the patient leaves the hospital can help alleviate the stress. Cleaning the house, re-arranging the furniture, removing carpets and installing safety rails and bed handles can decrease chance of falls
- Make a list of items they will need: Elderly patients are prone to developing varicose veins and swollen feet due to lack of mobility. Keeping compression socks at home is beneficial for their recovery. Braces are usually prescribed before the surgery so make sure they have been purchased to avoid last-minute stress. For example, shoulder replacement surgery requires a sling that must be worn right after the operation to avoid any arm movement. There is a range of easy nightwear and adaptive clothing available that will help the caregiver dress or undress the person who is recovering from an arm or shoulder surgery.
- Ask the doctors and nurses for post-operative guidance: Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Before the doctor decides to discharge the patient, ask questions and find out about the best post surgery procedures, guidelines, advice, and tips. They are the experts who can answer questions that will help the patient recover properly.
- Schedule follow-up appointments: Scheduling follow up appointments can help the caregiver create a timeline for appointments and physiotherapy sessions (if needed). It is better to be prepared for sudden trips to the family doctor in case the patient doesn’t feel well. Post-operative patients go through a lot of pain so providing them with comfortable footwear will help them walk in and out of the house easily.
- Prepare for added medications and side effects: Hospital medications usually stop on the day of discharge, but most patients are given pain medications to manage discomfort or post surgery pain. If these medications are new for the patient, they can have some unintended side effects. It is important to be mentally prepared for unexpected issues. Keep an eye on the patient to see if they are healing well or if they need to see the doctor as a precautionary step.
- Ask for help: Caregiver stress is often associated with exhaustion. But a patient who is recovering from surgery needs diligent care and attention. If the caregiver feels tired, it is always better to ask for help. Help can come in many forms and from family, friends, relatives or neighbours.
- Make a list of important phone numbers: Compile all important phone numbers and post them on a board so all family members have access to the list. The list can include numbers of doctors, physiotherapists, close family members and friends who can come if needed.
- Help them feel comfortable: Post-operative recovery is a difficult phase for the patient as well as the family members. Patients are usually asked to sit with elevated legs especially if they had knee surgery. Assisting them to sit in a recommended position will help them feel comfortable. Pain and medications can also lead to feelings of frustration and sadness. Putting a few items of their choice, like magazines and snacks can help them feel positive and inspired.
Do you know any family member or friend who recently recovered from surgery? Do you have any tips that we can share? Leave a comment and share your experience!
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- Giving Care Team