When a loved one spends time in the hospital for surgical procedures, doctors give you a good idea about recovery time, medications, and limitations….and you are left scrambling to figure out the challenges of post-surgical caregiving on your own. Lorri has found a wonderful article that has great suggestions for how to prepare for the caregiving after the surgery. This can be a great conversation-starter with your doctor or nurse, too!
Doctors do a great job of explaining the medical aspects of recovery from surgical procedures.
But they’re not always great about outlining the practical day-to-day challenges that caregivers need to address. To make your patient’s recovery easier in the days after a surgery, be sure to understand and plan for the non-medical aspects of daily care.
Here are some considerations:
- Gear. Find out what extra things to have on hand to keep the person comfortable. Small pillows may be needed to prop up an arm or an ankle. Towels can be rolled up to support the back. Cloth baby diapers can prevent chafing and neck strain when someone is wearing a sling.
The bathroom can be especially dangerous, so consider adding grab bars or renting stools and shower chairs. Also, ask about the strategies and other devices that will boost your patient’s comfort and safety.
- Clothing. Zippers and buttons suddenly become difficult to operate when you’ve had certain surgeries. Think about the clothes that will be easiest to get on and off and which garments will afford your loved ones the greatest independence.
An arm injury, for example, can make putting on t-shirts and pullover sweaters impossible. So think oversized shirts with Velcro closures as an alternative.
- Safe house. Even if your spouse or parent normally is nimble, surgery can temporarily diminish their agility. Be certain that the house is safe for them to navigate, especially if they’ll be taking pain medications that cause grogginess or if they’ll be using a wheelchair or walker.
Move furniture they can bump into, pick up throw rugs that can cause trips, and remove delicate decorative items from tables.
Medical-related duties. You could be charged with changing bandages, taking slings on and off, and managing other medical devices. Be certain that you get some lessons on carrying out your duties before you leave the medical center.
- Smooth moves. Talk to nurses and physical therapists about the proper placement and bracing of walkers and other assistive devices. Helping patients in and out of bed and up from chairs doesn’t entail brute force. Learn to protect your body when you’re moving and shifting patients and understand how best to provide support.