Once your surgery is over, your body can begin the healing process and you can be on your way to resuming your usual activities, free of pain. To help speed your recovery and reduce the risk of injury while you heal, there are steps you can take ahead of time to set up your home and simplify your daily routine.
Ideally, you can also arrange to have a friend or family member take you home after your surgery, help you at home while you’re recovering, and provide transportation to and from your follow-up appointments and any other medical appointments you may have until you can safely drive.
Having another person around who can assist you during your home recovery can make life easier in countless ways, but for now let’s focus on what you can do before your surgery.
How to Prepare Your Home for After Surgery
While it’s important that you follow your post-operative care instructions for walking and moving about after your surgery, you also want to avoid falling and possibly injuring yourself. Taking a few precautions before you have surgery can greatly reduce your chances of tripping or slipping. Here are some things to think about:
- Will stairs be an issue? If your bedroom is upstairs, then you might want to look into having a bed set up temporarily in a room downstairs. If you will need to use the stairs, then having a railing to hold on to will make going up and down them much safer.
- Do you have room to move around? You can be proactive by clearing away objects and clutter that might get in your way — especially if you’ll be using a walker. Arrange your furniture so there’s enough space for you to walk around without bumping into it. Take up any rugs or mats that might cause you to trip. Get loose cords and other fall hazards out of your walking paths.
- Is your bathtub/shower as safe as possible? Even if you have grab bars in your bathtub or shower, consider adding a mat designed to keep you from slipping on wet surfaces.
- How’s your lighting? Is there enough light in the areas you’ll be using to easily see where you’re going? If not, add more lamps or install brighter bulbs. Adding nightlights in key areas is an inexpensive and effective way to help prevent a potentially dangerous middle-of-the-night tumble.
By taking these steps before surgery, you can increase the likelihood of successful home care after surgery. And that leads us to some other things you can do to prepare for your home recovery.
Post-Operative Care at Home
Just like you can arrange beforehand to have someone drive you to and from your surgery, you can plan ahead to simplify or have help with your day-to-day routine once you’re back home.
For example, map out your meals for a week or two and stock up on groceries and other household items you’ll need. Create a list of easy-to-make dishes and/or make a few meals before your surgery that will keep safely in the refrigerator (or freeze them).
Also, be sure that you have an adequate supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications you take for existing conditions, and have a plan in place for getting any new prescriptions filled following your surgery. Have your medications in a spot that will be easily accessible (bearing in mind the safety of others who share your home, including pets).
Speaking of pets, if you have a dog, cat or other pet that will need to be taken care of, either make arrangements for a family member or friend to attend to your pet’s needs or consider having your pet stay elsewhere while you’re recovering from surgery.
Something else you can do that just might make a big difference is to jot down your emergency contact information and your doctor’s phone number, and keep both within reach or in a spot that someone else could find easily. Even though you might have all of that stored in your cell phone, another person might not be able to access it that way.
You can probably come up with other ways to make your life easier in the days and weeks just after your surgery. As you go about your daily activities, keep in mind how much you’re having to lift, lean over or reach down to accomplish whatever it is you’re doing. Then, ask yourself if there’s a way to make that easier while you’re recovering — like using a long-handled shoe horn to put on your shoes, or having a reach extender (also called a grabber or gripper tool) handy to pick up things from the floor.
The Advantages of Home Recovery
Less-invasive surgical procedures typically lead to shorter recovery periods, and for many people home recovery is an option. One of the main advantages of home care after surgery is the greater level of comfort you’ll have in your own home. You’ll be in a familiar environment, with easy access to family and friends who can provide emotional support and other assistance as you recover.
Post-operative care at home is also considerably less costly than receiving care in, say, an inpatient rehabilitation facility. Most insurance companies recognize the value of home care after surgery, as long as it’s deemed a safe alternative for a particular patient. Even when health plans do provide coverage for post-operative care in a facility, it’s for a limited number of days and there are virtually always out-of-pocket costs for the patient.
While every situation is different, there’s a very good chance that you’ll be able to begin your recovery at home either the same day as your surgery or within a day or two afterward. The Joint Replacement Center of Scottsdale encourages you to follow the tips in this post and make your recovery as safe and smooth as it can be.