How to Prepare for Post-Surgery Recovery at Home

If you or your loved one has an upcoming surgery, you might be focused on the surgery itself and how to prepare for the big day. But recovery after surgery is just as important.

Think about what you’ll need as you recover and how you can make your environment comfortable during the recovery process. Talk with your doctor about what to expect during post-surgery recovery and be sure to follow their orders for post-operative care.

Your surgeon may be a virtuoso in the operating room, but recovery is your challenge. Here are some tips for how to prepare for post-surgery recovery at home.

Follow your doctor’s instructions.

The surgeon will provide you with post-operative instructions prior to your surgery. It’s vital that you follow these instructions and avoid making your own post-surgery care plan.

Exerting yourself too much or too soon can delay your recovery. Give your body time to heal. Take all prescribed medications as instructed and go to all your follow-up visits.

Get your home ready.

Before your surgery, decide where you will spend most of your recovery time. Make sure you can easily get up and down, and clear paths throughout your home, especially if you will use crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair after surgery.

Make sure there are no impediments or trip hazards between rooms. You may need to temporarily relocate or remove some furniture. Remove throw rugs that can lead to a fall. Tape down wires or move them against the wall.

Use lamps and nightlights to increase lighting in dark halls or corners. Make your safety or that of your loved one a priority during recovery.

Prepare meals in advance.

Prepping and freezing meals before your surgery means you can focus on recovery. Soups, stews, and pasta dishes (especially lasagna) all freeze well. Bags of salad mix also come in handy and usually keep for well over a week, unopened.

Stock your kitchen and pantry before surgery. Frozen meals at the grocery store are often loaded with salt, fat, and additives, so it’s best to prepare and freeze home-cooked meals, if possible. Make sure to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Ask your friends and family for help with the preparations and once you’re back at home.

Stay hydrated.

Dehydration is a serious problem in the U.S., and it’s common among older adults. Four in 10 community-dwelling elderly people may be chronically dehydrated, and adults over age 65 have the highest hospital admission rates for dehydration.

It’s easy to forget to drink water when your routine is disrupted after surgery. But staying hydrated is critical to proper healing. Make a plan to stay hydrated. Place bottles of water by your bedside or wherever you plan to spend the most time while you recover. Choose low-calorie, non-carbonated, non-caffeinated, and non-alcoholic beverages.

Nourish your body.

Nutrition is vital for good health, and this is especially true when recovering from surgery.

Before your procedure, ask your doctor if there are any foods you should get more of once you’re back at home. Also ask about foods to avoid, such as alcohol, which can interfere with certain medications and slow healing.

Make sure your home is well stocked with these foods and beverages in advance of your surgery.

Get moving.

Research shows that movement promotes healing and can help prevent blood clots, so it’s important to get up and move around after surgery. But always follow your doctor’s orders. Don’t do more than your doctor advises and avoid strenuous activity.

An in-home care provider can help with light exercise and physical therapy after surgery.

Get proper wound care.

Tending to your wound after surgery is vital to prevent infection and ensure proper healing, especially if you have a large incision (as with hip replacement surgery or an open-heart procedure).

Wear loose clothing that doesn’t irritate your surgical site, and change the dressing as instructed by your doctor. Look for signs of infection. Call your doctor right away if you have unexpected itching, pain, or discomfort.

Changing the dressing on a wound can be challenging to do on your own. Consider using an in-home care provider to help with daily wound care.   

Give yourself permission to rest.

You may be anxious to get back to work or your normal routine. But doing too much before your body is ready can delay healing. If you feel tired, rest. Take breaks when you need them and ask for assistance. Listen to your body and avoid overexerting yourself.

If you anticipate feeling antsy during your recovery, make sure you have plenty of things to occupy your mind, such as a smartphone, books and magazines, and a tablet or e-reader.

Get professional assistance.

Recovering from surgery can be challenging, especially if you live alone. A trained in-home caregiver can provide much-needed post-surgical care for you or a loved one.

The experienced caregivers at Care To Stay Home provide post-operative support after orthopedic procedures, including:

  • Hip replacement
  • Knee replacement
  • Total joint reconstruction
  • Shoulder and hand surgery
  • Back and spinal surgery

We assist patients with daily activities including bathing, dressing, and toileting, as well as meal preparation, errands, and light housework. Our caregivers may also supervise and help with range-of-motion and daily exercise routines.

Whether you need help for a few hours a day or once or twice a week, we will tailor a plan based on the needs of you or your loved one. Call us today at 509-775-6789 for an in-home consultation in the Greater Spokane area.