Are you dealing with a senior recovering from surgery at home? If so, you probably already know there’s something quite unsettling about being in the hospital or having a loved one in the hospital. Patients often feel incredibly vulnerable and out of sorts, just being away from home and their familiar surroundings. Add to that feeling a bunch of strangers coming in and out of their room, poking and prodding and asking numerous personal questions, and it’s little wonder people sometimes get upset.
And that’s from just being in the hospital. Knowing you’re facing a surgical procedure can be even more intimidating. This can be especially true of seniors, who may not have been in the hospital before, or have never undergone surgery.
There can be an overwhelming feeling of dread—not really knowing what to expect and yet fearing the worst possible outcome. After the surgery is over, patients are often disoriented and may be briefly confused. What’s worse, as the anesthesia wears off, they frequently find themselves in unbearable pain. Staff nurses on the surgical floor are usually well-equipped and trained in how to deal with post-surgery patients.
But what happens after discharge? How do you help a senior recovering from surgery at home?
If you know your senior loved one will be much less mobile after surgery, it’s a good idea to prepare the area before they arrive back home. Make sure the floor is clear of toys and clothes or other trip hazards, and make sure there’s a clear pathway between rooms.
You may want to make sure items are within easy reach without your senior loved one having to get up or call for help to get them.
At some point following surgery, your senior loved one may feel temporarily quite mobile and may try to push beyond the limits of what the doctor recommended for exercise or mobility training. They may insist on skipping medications or rehabilitation sessions, claiming they “don’t need it anymore.”
As the caretaker helping your senior loved one recover at home from surgery, it’s up to you to make sure they stay in compliance with what the doctor said. Remind your loved one they have doctor’s “orders” to follow, not doctor’s “suggestions.”
Perhaps you’ve been the caretaker for your loved one for quite a while. Caring for them following surgery is very different, so it’s important you know their requirements after they come home.
Will you need to change their bandages? What about monitoring their blood pressure? Will you need to apply warm or cold compresses to certain areas? Should you force your senior loved one to get up and walk even when they say they don’t want to? What happens if they refuse to take a medication?
As important as the recovery process is to your loved one’s physical well-being, their mental well-being is equally important. If you find you need to take on a parental-type role, it can help to remind them it was the doctor who gave the order. You’re just trying to get them to do what the doctor said.
Depending on your situation, you may find yourself unable to provide the proper care and support your senior loved one needs while recovering from surgery at home. If you have a busy schedule, small children or a demanding job, you may need to consider outside support. Even without those factors, caring for a loved one after surgery can become an overwhelming task for just one person.
A friend or family member may be able to help out by running errands, doing some laundry, or taking over the cooking of meals for a few days.
You may realize, even before the surgery, that your days are already filled with other obligations—too many to add helping a senior loved one recovering from surgery at home. In addition to the post-operative daily orders, there may be post-op doctor’s appointments and transportation arrangements for those appointments.
It’s important for you to recognize when it’s time to call in additional help and expand your support system even beyond friends and family. This is when using an agency can be a life-saver. A skilled nurse trained in post-operative care can give you peace of mind and keep you from becoming so stressed that you’re unable to properly care for the others in the family who depend on you.
Setbacks can happen with any surgery, even with the best of care. This can prolong the healing process, slowing recovery time significantly. With seniors, their health risks are often higher simply due to their age, and that can also impact the speed of healing. According to one study, one out of every five senior patients who undergo surgery wind up back at the hospital for readmittance within a month of their initial discharge.
Even younger, healthy patients can become overwhelmed by the rehabilitation efforts required after major surgeries. For a senior recovering from surgery at home, it can be even more challenging. Many factors beyond age affect the healing process, such as pre-existing medical conditions, anxiety, depression and level of emotional support.
If you have a senior loved one facing surgery, hopefully these tips will help you be better prepared for what’s in store for everyone concerned. Even though it’s one person actually having the surgery, it will impact the entire family for several weeks or even months. With the right support system in place, you can help your senior loved one recovering from surgery at home return to their normal level of activities, without anyone suffering from too much stress.
Looking into services for a senior recovering from surgery at home? Get in touch with our team of experts at Celestial Care online now or call 602.375.8880 to get a complimentary home care assessment. We know post-surgery can be a stressful time for your loved one and for your entire family. Let us take some of the load off of your shoulders with our caring, professional in home nursing services.