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Preparing Seniors for Surgery

Preparing Seniors for Surgery

Helpful Tips for Seniors

Surgery can seem like a daunting experience for any patient — especially seniors. Older patients may have other health conditions that could complicate surgery or make it riskier. They may also heal more slowly after surgery and have a more extended recovery period. While there is an ideal age range for procedures like hip replacements and many other major surgeries, patients outside this age range may still be candidates for the procedure.

With this in mind, it's vital to help your aging loved one prepare for their surgery properly to ensure a speedy and healthy recovery. Here are a few ways you can help them before their surgery date:

Ask Questions Before Your Surgery

It's essential for seniors and their loved ones to talk to their doctor about their surgery. Ask questions about the procedure, the recovery process, and what you can expect before, during, and after surgery.

Make sure you understand all of the instructions for preparing for surgery. This may include things like fasting before surgery or stopping certain medications. Having this information well in advance can help your loved one feel calm the day of.

Arrange Transportation

Though you may not want to ask for help — you'll likely need it. Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital after surgery. You may be unable to drive home, and having a loved one help you will help make this adjustment easier. It may also be a good idea to set up transportation for any post-operative appointments you may have as well, as you may have to avoid driving for a few weeks.

Set Your Home Up for Rest & Recovery

Preparing your home for recovery before you head to the hospital will help make the transition from the hospital to home more accessible. This may include making sure you have comfortable furniture to rest in or stocking up on groceries and household supplies. Depending on your procedure and healing process, you may also want to consider having a loved one stay with you for a few days or weeks afterward.

Preventing Slips & Falls

Falls are a common occurrence for seniors, especially after surgery. Several things can contribute to a fall, such as slippery floors, obstacles in the way, or simply being unsteady on your feet.

Seniors who have had surgery are especially susceptible to falling because they may be taking pain medication that can make them drowsy or dizzy. They may also be weaker than usual and have difficulty walking or moving around.

There are several things that you can do to help prevent falls at home, including:

  • Make sure that your home is safe and free of potential hazards.
  • Remove any obstacles from walkways.
  • Clean up any spills immediately.
  • Keep floors dry and free of clutter.
  • Consider installing safety features such as handrails, grab bars, or non-slip mats. These Keep your home well-lit, both inside and out.

Plan for a Healthy Recovery

The days, weeks, or even months spent recovering from surgery can feel like an uphill battle for many patients. When recovering from surgery, following the doctor's orders and taking care of yourself according to their post-op instructions is essential. You can do many things at home or should avoid certain activities to stay healthy after surgery.

Healthy Diet Options

Getting the proper nutrients is essential daily — but it can also speed up your recovery and help you avoid complications. Here are some critical vitamin and mineral-rich foods to eat after surgery that will help you recover quickly and safely:

  • Protein: lean meats, poultry, fish, tofu, eggs, legumes, and nuts.
  • Fiber: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
  • Antioxidants: include berries, dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
  • Vitamin C: citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Iron: red meat, poultry, fish, beans, lentils, spinach, and iron-fortified foods.

Some foods can slow down your recovery or increase your risk of complications after surgery. These include alcohol, processed foods, caffeine, and foods that are high in sugar.

Top Low-Impact Exercises

After having surgery, it's important to take things easy and not overdo it. But that doesn't mean you have to be completely inactive. Some light movement and stretching can help with your recovery.

Here are a few exercises that are safe for post-surgery recovery that your doctor may recommend:

  • Ankle pumps
  • Knee bends
  • Heel slides
  • Hip abductions
  • Leg extensions

After your surgery, your surgeon and physical therapist will recommend what is suitable for you and what exercises you're cleared for. Start with a few repetitions of each activity and build up as you feel comfortable. And always listen to your body – if something hurts, stop doing it.

Supporting Seniors Through Their Procedure

By following these tips, seniors can make surgery a less stressful experience. At St. John's Health, our surgical team aims for the best possible recovery for each patient. We're here to support you before, during, and after your operation.

For any questions regarding pre-operative or post-operative care, visit our website.