Caring for Seniors After Hip Surgery

If you or your loved one is facing a hip replacement surgery, you are in good company. More than 2.5 million Americans live with an artificial hip. While your surgeon will educate you on what to expect before, during, and immediately following the surgery, he or she may not have talked to you about what your life will be like for months after the surgery. During this time, you will need special care to ensure that you or your loved one will recover completely.

caring for the elderly after hip surgery

Prepare the home ahead of time

If you have the luxury of scheduling your hip replacement surgery, preparing your home ahead of time should not be an issue. If you or your loved one experienced an emergency hip surgery, this process could cause you to scramble a bit. First, you need to make sure there is a bed and bathroom available on the main level of the house. Stairs will be impossible to navigate right after the surgery.

Speaking of bathrooms, you might consider installing a high toilet seat and grab bars in the bathroom.

If the home is cluttered with furniture, you will need to move items out of the way since your loved one will need to navigate with crutches or a walker during recovery. Remove throw rugs and other things that may be tripping hazards.

Make commonly used items within reach of your loved one. He or she will not be able to bend or stretch for a time. Install easy to use lighting and to make sure your loved one can maneuver through a well-lit house while using crutches, a walker, or a cane.

Prepare a recovery center for your loved one. An appropriate chair should be chosen for this spot. The chair should not be too low to the ground or too soft, but it should provide the proper amount of support for the new hip. Move a table within reach of the chair to store supplies and entertainment for your loved one.

Preparing the home is only the first part of the caregiver’s responsibility. After your loved one returns home from the hospital, there are other aspects of care that need to be considered.

Food and drink

Obviously, your loved one will have limited mobility for a time, so you will need to provide meals and snacks for your family member. Keep in mind that your loved one will not be able to move without the aid of a walker or cane so even the smallest task of carrying a plate from the refrigerator to the microwave may be difficult. This is also true for carrying beverages. Make sure your loved one stays hydrated by keeping a drink within reach. Hospital tumblers that have lids and sturdy straws work great during recovery as well.

Medical needs

Your loved one will need medical supervision during this time. There will be an incision to care for. Hopefully, you will receive instructions at the time of the hospital dismissal that will tell you how to care for the incision. While bruising is typical for this type of surgery, you need to be on the lookout for red, swollen areas. It is also a good idea to take your loved one’s temperature several times a day at first to make sure a fever doesn’t develop soon after surgery.

Complications can occur after hip surgery. Caregivers need to be aware of the signs of a blood clot. If your loved one’s leg is swollen or if he or she experiences tenderness in the calf, knee, or groin, you may want to consult the doctor.

Physical Therapy

More than likely, your loved one will require physical therapy after surgery. Therapists will more than likely ask the senior to perform exercises that will strengthen the muscles around the new hip. Performing these exercises will help accelerate the recovery process. While some physical therapists will provide services in the home, you may need to drive your loved one to appointments at the therapist’s office.

The physical therapist may also ask your loved one to perform exercises on days when he or she doesn’t see your loved one. As the caregiver, it will be your responsibility to encourage your family member to complete the exercises. This may be a difficult task depending upon the personality of the patient.

Pain Medicine

It is also common for those who have undergone hip surgery to be sent home with pain medication. It will be up to the caregiver to monitor the medicine, so it is taken appropriately.

Follow-up Appointments

Those who undergo surgery will have follow-up appointments so the surgeon can check the area of the wound. You may have to take extra care deciding which vehicle would be best for your loved one to get in and out of for appointments.

Emotional Health

Sometimes seniors who undergo such a traumatic surgery may have feelings of sadness or isolation. This is especially true if your loved one had been extremely active and social in the time leading up to the surgery. The recovery process is not only hard physically, but it is also difficult emotionally as well. Find ways to keep your family member’s mind occupied during the recovery process.

Help is available

Caring for a family member after surgery is never an easy task. Even the most mild-mannered person may display irritation or grumpiness when he or she doesn’t feel well. Sometimes pain medication may cause a person to have a change in behavior as well.

Be aware that there is help available for those who find themselves in the role of a caregiver. After all, some people cannot stop working or caring for small children even during family emergencies such as surgeries or illnesses. You can hire people to perform a variety of services for your loved one.

If you are not available to provide meals for your loved one, you could consider checking into the Meals on Wheels services in your area. Some churches are also happy to provide occasional care for home-bound members. If those options are not available to you, you can hire someone to come in during meal times to make sure your loved one is fed, and that the appropriate medicines are taken.

If you are not able to take care of your loved one’s home during his or her recovery, you can also hire outside help that will complete household chores and errands. Many times these individuals are specially trained in working with the elderly.

Perhaps your loved one has a complicated health history, and you would like a health care professional to follow the progress of your family member’s recovery. This service is available as well. A health care professional can come to your home and provide the daily care that the physician recommends. This person may also be the “bad guy” who insists that the senior perform his or her regular exercises. Sometimes it is better if those instructions come from a stranger rather than a family member.

Taking care of a family member can be difficult, especially if the family member is a parent. During the most frustrating times, it is important to remember how blessed you are to have access to your parent still. There are others who are not so lucky.