People typically have hip replacement surgery because their daily lives have been interrupted by their painful ailments. When joint deterioration or arthritis gets bad, it makes it incredibly difficult for the patient to walk and accomplish tasks that were once easy.
If a loved one needs hip replacement surgery, you will want them to have that second chance to live full lives. But make sure the patient talks to the surgeon about which type of implant will be used. That’s important because some manufacturers – including Stryker and Wright Medical — have had problems with some of their hip device products.
The recovery period is an important part of hip replacement surgery. That’s where you come in as a caregiver. In the beginning, especially, they will lean on you heavily (sometimes literally).
Be prepared to drive, since doctors typically want a patient to wait at least six weeks before driving. You will need to take the patient to follow-up appointments, to physical therapy and to get their medications. But driving them to and from appointments is just the beginning.
The best way to handle your loved one’s recovery after their surgery is to plan as much as you can before the procedure. It’s important to know what to expect in the weeks following hip replacement.
Understand the Process of Recovery
The recovery process is delicate and will require the patient’s full attention to keep the recovery on track.
One of the most important parts of the recovery process is preventing dislocation (the ball popping out of the socket). Recovering patients should not bend beyond 90 degrees at the hip.
It is also important to keep the wound dry until the staples are removed, which may not happen for two weeks. Pain will also be an issue. Manage the pain by keeping the proper amount of pain medication on hand, and use it as directed. If it’s not working, they may need a new medication.
Swelling is normal after surgery. Communicate with the patient, however, to make sure the swelling and pain does not get too severe.
Blood clots could become a concern, so you and the patient should stay in touch with the doctor to make sure you have proper medication and that the patient is performing the proper light exercise.
Create a Comfortable Living Environment
The recovering patient should be 100 percent focused on their personal medical needs, therefore their home should be set up for comfort and convenience as much as possible.
If you are the primary caregiver, it’s a smart idea to have another relative, friend or neighbor on hand occasionally to help you out. A hospital social worker can help you find a health care professional, if needed.
The everyday demands of life may make it hard to be on duty 24 hours a day. There are some simple preparations you can make in case you’re not able to be at home:
- Stock up on nonperishable foods.
- Cook meals that can be frozen and easily warmed up.
- If the patient lives in a two-story house, make a bed downstairs and put commonly used items within arm’s reach, including a phone.
You and the patient should be aware of the types of things they will be able to do, and what they won’t. Their physical therapist will help you with this. Knowing what to expect will reduce stress for both of you.
Julian Hills is a content writer and blogger for Drugwatch.com. His journalism career has taken him from newspapers to local television news stations and even a 24-hour cable network in the Southeast. Julian is a graduate of Florida State University.
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