In most cases the decision to undergo joint replacement surgery is taken jointly by the caregiver/caregivers and the patient. The caregiver not only plays an important role in the patient’s post-surgery recovery process but also in alleviating the patient’s fears and providing positive encouragement in the run up to the surgery itself.
Preparing for the Surgery
It is important that both the caregiver and the patient are completely aware of what the surgery involves. Having a detailed conversation with the orthopedic surgeon will ensure that everyone is well informed and aligned in the process going forward. The caregiver could make his/her conversation with the doctor even more fruitful by making a list of all the questions and concerns before the visit to the clinic. He/she may also find it beneficial to gather information on symptoms, medications and general dos and don’ts. By the time of surgery, the caregiver should be completely sure of what his/her role is and how to execute it well.
Packing for the Surgery
The surgery is likely to take around 2 hours however the patient may be in the hospital for a week to ten days post-surgery. The caregiver should pack accordingly. Please find below some packing tips:
- Carry reading material
- Consider bringing a laptop but check with the hospital first on its policy on electronic devices
- Bring along a pillow, a small blanket, a bag with toiletries and underwear
- Wear comfortable shoes
- Bring nonperishable snacks
- Pack personal medications. It is important that caregivers do not neglect their own medication. They should arrange this a week prior to the surgery.
Caring for Patient Post- Surgery
Help with Medication and Wound Care
The caregiver must help ensure that the patient takes all his/her prescribed medication on time and in the correct dosage. The caregiver should ideally be present when the doctor explains the medications that are needed. The caregiver should also help monitor and observe the patient’s wound. It is important that he/she learns about the warning signs from the orthopedic surgeon in advance.
Help with Home Safety
While the patient is in the hospital, the caregiver could prepare the home for the patient’s stay. Some measures that could be taken includes:
- Prepare a room for the patient on the ground floor so that he/she doesn’t have to climb stairs
- Indian style toilets could be replaced with western style toilets
- All loose carpeting and clutter on which a patient can trip on should be removed
- All slippery surfaces should be covered
- Items which are regularly used by the patient should be kept in the patient’s reach. Widen furniture paths to accommodate for walking devices
Help with Rehab and Exercises
Post-surgery, the patient must adhere to a strict and rigorous rehab program. In many instances, patients find the exercises painful and stop doing them. As a caregiver, one must encourage the patient to continue these exercises in a disciplined manner as guided by the physiotherapy specialist. The caregiver can track their developments and motivate them to keep performing and making progress.
Help with Monitoring Change
The caregiver should always maintain a close watch on the patient and observe or monitor any changes in their physical or mental state. Conversations with the orthopedic surgeon may shed additional light on any watch out areas. The caregiver should always maintain healthy communication with his patient by expressing their feelings openly and encouraging the patient to do the same. The caregiver must be a good listener and respect the feelings of others.
Disclaimer: These guide/resources are only indicative in nature. Specific professional advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action and any reference to this website shall be entirely at your own risk.