After Surgery: How to care for an elderly person at home
Many elderly undergo surgery at some point for everything from hip replacements to more complex operations. If an elderly friend or relative is soon to undergo an operation, you will want to start preparing in advance to help them in their recovery.
If you currently care for them, be aware that caring for someone following surgery can be challenging. Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind once your loved one is home after a surgery
1. Be patient – the first few days after surgery are important and tough
Post-surgery, the first few days back at home are when you will be needed most. They may be tired, suffering from pain, frustrated at not being able to do the things that they want to, and upset at their loss of independence.
You can help with basic things like grooming, going to the bathroom and preparing meals. This can be a testing time for both you and the person you are caring for, so be prepared.
2. Follow the doctor’s orders – medications and wound care at home
Your friend or family member may be taking medications following surgery, so help to make sure they are taking them properly. Monitor their prescriptions and make sure you get new prescriptions on time.
You may also need to observe any wounds for signs of inflammation, and you could help to change the dressings as well. Seek medical attention if you notice anything unusual.
3. Find the balance between support and independence at home post-operation
The long road to recovery can be a difficult time, and your support is needed. Simply being with them and spending time with them can be an enormous help.
There may be many simple things they are unable to do, and you can help with these tasks. These could include household chores, cooking, getting out and about, helping them to get out and see friends, eating the right foods, getting rest, paperwork, taking the rubbish out, etc.
As they get stronger, encourage them to do more on their own. This will help with their independence and will be a boost for them.
Follow their own diet if you can, and don’t drink or smoke around them if they are not allowed to. Show solidarity with their situation and this will make it easier for them.
A lack of progress can be very frustrating. They may have thought they would recover sooner, so be with them and help them to cope if recovery takes longer than expected.
4. Assist with medical appointments and follow-ups
Accompany them to see the doctor. It can be very useful for them to have someone there to listen to instructions and take notes. You could also ask questions, and you may want to write these down in advance. Use the visits as an opportunity to find out more about their condition – the more you know, the more you will be able to help.
5. Keep an eye out for post-surgery complications
There can be various complications following surgery, including sleep problems. These are very common straight after surgery, and they can be stressful. They may even require medication.
Other complications like infections can be serious. Keep an eye out for anything unexpected and seek medical advice if you notice anything that concerns you.
6. Help with post-surgery exercises
The doctor may provide exercises to help the patient get strong and get back on track, and you can help with these. Help them to follow their rehabilitation plan, and make sure they don’t overdo it.
7. Get help from a Professional care worker
A care worker can help in various ways. If you cannot spend time with your parent or friend, a trained care worker can provide the support instead. We have care workers who are highly experienced in post-operative care and stoma care if necessary.
Or you may simply want to hire respite care. Once a week or so, you can arrange for a care worker to come in and take your place so that you can have a break. Looking after someone effectively means looking after yourself as well, so respite care can often be the best way to ensure you get a break.