Caring For an Elderly Loved One after Hip Replacement

Hip replacement surgery is a relatively common procedure but the recovery time after surgery can be much more complicated so it is important for family caregivers to know what to expect.  Recovery time varies from patient to patient but family caregivers should make sure that they give their loved one enough time to heal properly and should expect to provide care for at least a few months. In this article we would like to offer some tips for caring for an elderly loved one after hip replacement. 

Prepare the House

The first thing that family caregivers should do is prepare the house before their loved one comes home from the hospital.  After hip replacement surgery it is best for seniors to avoid climbing stairs, bending down or reaching for items on high shelves.  These limitations can require some rearranging, so it is best for family caregivers to prepare before their loved one arrives.  If your loved one normally sleeps upstairs it might be necessary to create a temporary sleeping area downstairs that is also close to a bathroom.  If there is no bedroom available downstairs family caregivers should do their best to create a temporary bedroom that is easy for their loved one to access and that provides them with enough privacy so that they are comfortable.  It might also be necessary to make other adjustments around the house such as moving items that seniors use on a regular basis to a location that is easy for them to reach without having to reach up high or bend down. Reaching and bending can cause falls which can be very painful for seniors that are recovering from a hip replacement so it is best to  arrange the house so that seniors will not have to reach or bend.  Family caregivers should also modify the bathroom so that it is easier for their loved one to use. Seniors often have a hard time sitting down on low seats so family caregivers should consider installing a raised toilet seat so that their loved one will be able to easily use the restroom on their own.  It is also helpful to install a hand rail in the shower so that seniors can steady themselves as they are getting in and out of the shower. Family caregivers should also make sure that they keep the floors clean so that seniors will not slip on any rugs or spills or trip over loose items or cords.  It might take some time for family caregivers to adjust to these changes around the house but it will make things much easier for their loved one.

Recovery Area

Once seniors are ready to return home it is important for family caregivers to make sure that they have a comfortable area to recover in where their hip can be carefully positioned.  Family caregivers should find their loved ones a comfortable chair that is not too close to the ground and is not too soft because softer chairs will be harder for seniors to get out of.  After finding a comfortable chair for their loved ones, family caregivers should make sure that their loved ones have easy access to things they will need such as medication, drinks and snacks and some type of entertainment. Medication is very important after a hip replacement, so family caregivers should make sure that their loved one has access to their medication and is taking it properly. Family caregivers should also keep extra bandages nearby so that they can change their loved one’s dressings regularly.  Changing the dressings around the incision site is very important because it helps keep the incision site clean so that it will not get infected.  Family caregivers should expect to see bruising around the area in the beginning but should keep an eye out for any signs that the area is not healing properly when changing the dressings.  If the wound appears overly red or the patient develops a fever family caregivers should contact their loved one’s doctor immediately.

Physical Therapy

As seniors begin to heal from their hip replacement surgery physical therapy is usually required.  Family caregivers should make sure that their loved one is regularly attending physical therapy and should make sure that they are keeping up with their exercise routine at home.  It is very important for seniors to follow their exercise routines so that they can strengthen the muscles in their legs before beginning to walk again.  Not following an exercise routine will slow the healing process and make it much harder for seniors to walk on their own without a walker.  Family caregivers should be sensitive and keep in mind that physical therapy can be very difficult for many patients but that it is necessary and motivation and support can help make things easier for seniors.  Family caregivers should also be patient during their loved one’s recovery period and should keep in mind that there is no set amount of time for recovery and each person will require different amounts of time and care.

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