We all know that undergoing joint replacement surgery is no easy task. Even with the amazing amount of progress that has been made with these procedures over the last decade, joint replacement – knee, hip, shoulder – is still a big deal. Caregivers play an essential role in the lives of those that undertake a joint replacement surgery. That’s why we’re going to focus this mini-blog series on YOU, the caretaker!
Before we go any further, let us reiterate the following: being a caregiver to someone who has just undergone joint replacement surgery is a big responsibility. As a caregiver, you have the ability to facilitate conversations with physicians, nurses, and physical and occupational therapists. This is especially true after surgery, when the patient may be groggy due to anesthesia or pain medication and not able to recall important information.
You’ll also have the opportunity to attend post-surgical therapy sessions so you can see first-hand what your patient-to-be is really supposed to be doing once they get home. Some patients are over-achievers and really want to “get going” as fast as possible. These patients may need someone to remind them of their daily goals and what activities they’re actually allowed to do. On the flip side, some of our patients are a bit more timid post-surgery, and may need a cheerleader to keep them on the right track in terms of movement and any exercises they’re supposed to be doing.
Prior to surgery, attend an appointment or two with the patient so you can meet the surgeon and be a second set of ears in the room. If there are questions or concerns that either of you have about the surgery or recovery, write them down and take them along so that you’re able to address them together. Some of the most common questions involve what to expect after surgery, how to care for incisions, physical limitations, and pain management.
Following surgery, the medical professionals that you’ll be seeing the most are nurses, occupational therapists, and physical therapists. These are all great individuals to ask questions to. They can provide specific ways to help the patient regain mobility, minimize pain, and give tips on how to assist the patient with doing things like putting socks and TED hose on, using a walker and/or cane, and so on.