If your loved one is slated for joint surgery, don’t underestimate the impact. Expect that he or she will have reduced energy and greater needs. Limited mobility will create surprising challenges. Things you take for granted will need extra care and attention. Plus, the body simply needs time and energy to rebuild bone, muscle, and nerve connections. There is much you can do ahead of time to help prepare a smooth path for recovery.
Support physical preparation for success
- Opt for an outpatient procedure if possible. It’s less invasive. Plus, recovery at home reduces the risk of complications.
- Consult a physical therapist. There may be exercises your loved one can do now to tone key muscles that will be needed after surgery.
- Support your relative in trimming excess weight and cutting down on alcohol and tobacco. They all impede healing.
Make practical arrangements
- Plan to provide daily help the first two weeks. The grogginess of pain meds and the difficulties of bathing, dressing, and walking make it unwise for your parent to go solo.
- No driving! A “chauffer” is needed for 3 to 6 weeks for errands and medical appointments.
- Stock up on easy-to-reheat meals. High-protein and high-fiber foods are wise—to promote healing and reduce any constipation from pain medicine.
- Plan to have a trusted friend or family member at the hospital, especially if there are mood or memory problems.
Rearrange the house
- Create a center of operations on the first floor. Ensure phone, remote, computer, books, meds, and water are all within easy reach.
- Devise a downstairs bed that is low (feet can touch the floor when sitting on it) and firm.
- Place a commode at bedside for the first week or so. Really. It makes life MUCH easier!
- Remove throw rugs—a serious trip hazard—and create wide thoroughfares. Your relative may be clumsy when using crutches or a walker.
Round up assistive devices
- Put a toilet seat riser in place.
- Get a bath bench to make showering safe.
- Buy a grabber for reaching things that have fallen.
- Purchase sock aids to reduce the need to bend when putting on socks.