Your mom has always been active, but lately arthritis in her hip is slowing her down and getting in the way of her quality of life. Hip replacement can be a game-changer: advances in technology have made surgery safer and recovery easier. But hip replacement is still a big deal. Healing takes time and seniors need support from family. Here are some tips for helping mom after hip replacement.
Helping Mom Recover from Hip Replacement: Support is Key
Hip replacement is one of the most common surgeries for seniors, with more than 300,000 performed each year according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. It’s a procedure that can give mom a new lease on life after being sidelined by arthritis or following a fracture. But recovery takes time, and support is essential. The rehab phase, which covers the time until your loved one can walk without assistance, is often the most challenging part. It can take several weeks of intensive rehab to get mom moving again.
How Can I Help Mom Get Ready for Hip Replacement?
One of the best things you can do to speed recovery is to take a few important prep steps before surgery. “Prehab” is a new catchphrase that covers the important idea of getting your body ready for surgery through exercise and physical therapy. Studies have shown that a pre-surgery program designed to increase strength, flexibility and aerobic fitness can help speed recovery. Your doctor may recommend physical therapy or exercise prior to surgery for six weeks or more to help boost her fitness level heading into surgery.
Here are some other recommendations from AAOS to prepare for a safe surgery and a speedy recovery:
- Go over current medications with mom’s orthopaedist.
- If mom is a smoker, encourage her to quit or cut back on smoking to improve circulation.
- Remind mom to avoid alcohol for 48 hours before surgery.
- As soon as surgery is scheduled, use it as an opportunity to make improvements to mom’s diet and nutrition to increase fitness and help her body to heal.
- Let mom’s doctor know if she gets a cold, flu or any other illness before surgery.
- Help get mom’s house ready for a safe return. This can include modifications to the house like making the shower and toilet more accessible, moving frequently used items to waist level, removing obstacles like slippery rugs and preparing meals in advance
How Long Will Mom Be in the Hospital After Hip Replacement?
Family members are often surprised to learn that patients usually only stay in the hospital for one or two nights after a hip replacement. But mom won’t be up and running as soon as she’s released from the hospital. Most of the recovery process happens either at home or in an outpatient rehab facility and takes plenty of effort from the patient along with support from family and caregivers.
How Can My Loved One Recover Faster from Hip Surgery?
Getting mom moving early is key to a safe and speedy recovery. To get the healing process rolling, patients are encouraged to get up and moving shortly after surgery and to continue pushing themselves to regain strength and mobility as they heal. It starts with assisted walking and moves into an exercise program as the patient gets stronger. Rehab can be done at home with outpatient physical therapy, but many families find that a week or two in inpatient rehab can greatly help with the recovery process.
Here are some of the most important reasons to think about inpatient rehab for mom:
- Physical therapy is an essential step in recovery following hip replacement surgery, from learning how to use a walker or cane to building strength and range of motion through exercise. Movement is essential to healing, but many seniors don’t follow through with in-home PT programming. Inpatient rehab with trained physical therapists can give mom the motivation, support and supervision she needs.
- Preventing blood clots and deep vein thrombosis: One of the reasons movement is so important following surgery is preventing blood clots in the leg. Supervised exercise and nursing care at an inpatient rehab facility can provide peace of mind for both patients and family members.
- Wound care. Preventing infection is crucial for seniors following any surgery. Keeping the incision dry and clean is an important part of the healing process after hip replacement. Many seniors benefit from the support of skilled nurses at an inpatient rehab facility as they recover.
- Pain management and medications: As mom recovers from hip surgery, her medications should be carefully monitored and administered. Mom may be a little groggy after surgery, and her doctor may prescribe pain medications and blood thinners in addition to her regular medications. Nursing care at inpatient rehab can help with medication management at an important time.
- Nutrition: Not having to worry that mom is getting the right nutrition after surgery is another benefit of inpatient rehab. Menus designed with nutrition and healing in mind, plus the care and feeding provided in short-term rehab can help get mom off to a solid start in her recovery process.
- Finally, a week or two of inpatient rehab can give family members time to better prepare for mom’s return home, including adapting the house and preparing meals in advance.
Evergreen Health & Rehab: The Support Mom Needs After Hip Replacement
When mom comes out of the hospital following a hip replacement, it’s going to take time and effort to get her active and moving again. As a family member, your goal is to help her stay healthy, avoid another hospitalization and keep her engaged as she heals. Sometimes family members are in a position to help during those important first weeks of recovery. But in many cases, it makes sense to choose short term rehab to provide the supervision and motivation she needs. Evergreen Health & Rehab is a trusted partner in making sure the first weeks of rehab are safe and productive. Of course, mom will require continued support after rehab, but an inpatient setting is often the best approach to get her on the road to recovery.