In the event that your aging parent has to undergo surgery, planning for recovery will help you feel in control and help your parent transition smoothly from the hospital to being back at home. After following a pre-surgery checklist, help your parent recover from surgery by following these tips:
- Ask your parent’s doctor questions about the surgery. Make sure you know the procedure, what kind of anesthesia will be used, how long your parent will need to recover in the hospital, how much pain he’ll be in and whether he needs pain meds, what the recovery timeline looks like, and anything else you think you need to know.
- Follow the doctor’s directions once your parent is home. This includes making sure all medications are taken on time and in correct dosages, helping your parent follow any special dietary needs or restrictions, and ensuring that they follow all directions related to bed rest and moving around the house.
- Accompany your parent to post-operative checkups and follow-up appointments. Many times, a patient may forget what the doctor says or what questions to ask. By going to appointments with your parent, you can take notes, ask questions, and act on behalf of your parent. The more you understand about your parent’s medical state, the more you can help.
- Make sure that your parent’s home has been modified for post-surgery recovery. Although you should modify your parent’s home before the surgery, you may need to make adjustments after the surgery as you know more about your parent’s condition and abilities. For example, if your parent is getting a hip replacement surgery and won’t be able to move easily, you may need to install home access products like a stair lift or a bathtub lift, or help them choose a power scooter to get around easily.
- Rally friends and family to help. Even if you’re the primary caretaker of your parent, you’ll need help from friends and family so that you don’t feel overburdened by caring for your parent around the clock. Reach out to your community of support for extra help so that you can take a break every now and then and make sure that you’re taking care of yourself as well.
- Be patient and keep an open line of communication. After a difficult surgery, your parent may have a hard time sleeping, eating, and taking care of himself- all things that may make your parents irritable, stressed, anxious, and/or emotional in general. Be patient, ask how you can help, and if they seem depressed for a prolonged amount of time, encourage them to talk to a therapist.
Helping your parent recover from surgery can be a difficult time, but with patience and empathy, you can help your parent on the road to recovery and health.