Surgery is stressful for family caregivers, as well as the senior scheduled for the operating room. Dealing with the resulting post-operative lifestyle changes can be difficult for all parties involved. Follow these five helpful tips to help seniors heal after surgery.
1. Meet with the hospital’s discharge planner:
Let the hospital discharge planner know that you are the contact person who will be handling your senior’s aftercare. If you are not in town, make sure to make phone contact with this individual. Your recovering senior may be too weak to discuss his or her needs, so make sure you receive:
- The exact aftercare services your loved one will need (eg, physical therapy or speech therapy)
- A list of providers for these services, based on your senior’s insurance
- Any additional lists of resources, including recovery expectations and support groups for your loved one’s particular health issue.
2. Be empathetic to your loved one’s needs and restrictions:
If your senior companion must drastically change his or her lifestyle habits after surgery, then make sure you, too, are empathetic to that new reality. Otherwise, jealousy and anger may ensue. Therefore:
- Don’t smoke in the presence of your loved one if he or she is restricted from smoking.
- Don’t drink alcohol in front of your senior if he or she was told to abstain from alcohol.
- Try not to eat the foods that are restricted from your senior’s post-surgery diet.
3. Follow the doctor’s home care plan:
A senior who has just recovered from a serious surgery cannot always be coherent enough to remember all of his or her required tasks once at home, such as medicine dosage, dietary requirements, exercise schedules, etc. This is where you can step in to keep your loved one on track. Do the grocery shopping, prepare whatever healthy meals are needed (even if pureed meals are suggested!), and maintain gentle physical exercise, if that’s called for.
4. Keep your senior in good spirits:
Frequently, depression can set in after a major surgery, as your senior companion must learn to readjust to living within his limitations. Even little mental perks can do a lot to change a negative attitude of your senior friend. Some activities you can instigate include watching upbeat movies on the DVD, taking your senior loved one on pleasant scenic drives, and even arranging social visits with some friends. Also, as a member of younger, tech-savvy generation, you can take the reins and set up a Skype system, or even an Iphone face chat, which will delight your special senior, and make him or her feel connected to those friends and family who live far away.