Having surgery is challenging enough as it is, but if you’re the family caregiver, how can you prepare the home and set up the best environment for the recovering patient? Of course, making things safe, comfortable and easiest for all involved is the goal.
5 Helpful Post Surgery Recovery Tips
Post-op recovery plan from healthcare professionals
Of course, the first plan of action is to know what expectations of recovery will look like. Although all surgeries are different, there are many things that will be common. The recovery plan from the surgeon or the attending physician will give you the specific details you’ll need.
The recovery plan will also outline follow-up doctor visits, warning signs to look out for and pain control guidelines.
Physically prepare the home
After surgery, one of the most important things is to be able to recover with the least number of obstacles as possible, in all ways. The home should be clean and free of obstructions; all pathways should be wide and clear. Remove items like throw rugs or small pieces of furniture that might be blocking walkways.
If the home is two-level or two story, then determine if the sleeping or resting area needs to be on the first floor for access. Consider carefully what kind of equipment might be needed in the bathroom, such as grab rails and no skid-mats in the shower or tub.
Make sure the patient has what they need for recovery
Once the home is cleaned, prepared and an appropriate sleep and rest space is arranged, it’s time to start thinking about what else the patient needs for a speedy recovery.
Depending on the type of surgery that was done, special equipment may be needed. Things from hospital beds, bed rails, rehab equipment, or even crutches and canes should be considered. The recovery plan/instructions should have any needed equipment listed.
But even a patient who doesn’t need special equipment may have other needs. If ankle/foot/leg surgery was performed, then elevation will be an important part of recovery. Improper leg elevation can cause problems in and of itself, so consider which type of elevation is needed. Have a look here for some suggestions.
In addition to the physical items that might be needed, consider the level of care that will be needed as well. Is nursing care needed, short-term or long term? Will groceries be delivered and who will do the meal planning and cooking? If you are the family caregiver, will you need assistance?
Don’t forget about mental health needs
Recovery from illness or surgery can be tough. None of us wants to admit that we feel terrible, physically or mentally. Planning for mental stimulation, distraction and perhaps even some fun will not only help the patient mentally but will aide in the body’s ability to heal.
Board games, cards, good books or movies, even introduction to podcasts, audiobooks or online games can help to pass the time.
Spending time with others is also important for healing. Conversation and company with a loved one or a friend go a long way to soothing the soul in a challenging time.
Patience and boundary setting
At least once in our lives, we’ve all tended to a patient, spouse, child or relative who was a “terrible patient”. Perhaps we’ve been the terrible patient! Recovering from surgery or illness, feeling dreadful and being laid out is hard, for some personalities more than others.
Fortifying your own patience and remembering how challenging it is to take that healing time will help you to maintain your own compassion. Having compassion for the patient (and yourself) will go miles for both of your sanity.
Boundary setting is also critical. For some patients, they won’t want to do their exercises or get up and walk the distances they should. For others, they may want to do too much too soon. Understanding the post surgery recovery plan will help keep both of you on track. It’s your role to gingerly and compassionately set and help maintain boundaries, so that the recovery time can be best utilized.
Be sure to have patience with yourself, especially if you are the full-time family caregiver. Know your own limits and ask for help when you need it.
Recovering from surgery, or even an illness is challenging, no doubt about it. But being the family caregiver has its own challenges. Following the recovery plan, having a strategy, and working with patience and compassion will go far, for the patient and for yourself.
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