Recovery after surgery is more than just healing a wound and doing the right exercises. It’s more than snapping your fingers and voila! – you are better. Recovery takes planning. The better you are able to plan and anticipate what is ahead, the easier recovery you will have. There are many aspects of recovery to consider. Nearly all components are within your control and include (in no specific order):
Help at home
I would like to discuss these in future blog posts as well and hope to answer questions you may have. Let’s start with what doctors call your ‘social’ situation. Here are a bunch of questions that fall into this category:
Who lives with you at home?
- How competent are they?
- How much help can they give?
- How much help will you need?
- Does someone need to come stay with you?
- How long will this last?
- Can you climb stairs to your room?
- How will you get my meals?
- How long will I need help?
- Do I need a nursing home / rehab center?
Remember the answers are all within your control. Let’s go through each of these in more detail to understand them better and make better plans for your procedure.
Who lives with you ?
Most, not all, people have someone else at home as well.This may be your spouse or significant other, a daughter or other family member. If you have no one there, it’s time to call your kids, friends, sister or brother and see if they can come to visit for about 10 days. If you truly have no one and no one you can call, you should talk to your doctor and hospital coordinator so they know you will need help. Our goal is to always have your go home after surgery. Patients who go to nursing homes or rehab centers (Same thing … sorry !) have higher risks of complications than those that go home. It may not be easy, but find someone who can stay with you and the end result of the surgery will be better!
How competent are they?
Some patients have loved ones at home that have their own disabilities. You need consider how capable they are to help you. A spouse with mild dementia may struggle to help you with simple tasks or may need support themselves. If so, think about asking someone else to come into the home to help both of you.
How long will this last?
While everyone is different, most patients after knee replacement surgery need help for about 10-14 days. This is similar for patients after a total hip replacement. I would expect to have someone their that long, and if everything goes amazingly well, they might be able to go home sooner. But, plan for it.
Many people have stairs in their home. Be sure to tell your physical therapist about all your home needs to help you plan for it. Your physical therapist will teach you how to go up and down stairs after your surgery in the hospital to be sure you are safe. If possible, consider moving a bed downstairs, or making adjustments at home to avoid stairs as much as possible.
Do you need a nursing home or rehab center ?
Research shows that patients that end up in a nursing home after surgery have a higher incidence of complications like infection, blood clots and more. While there are plenty of quality facilities, there is definitely something that increases your risk. Do you best to find someone who can be there for you and avoid the nursing home if possible.
Stay tuned for the next post on recovery after surgery.