Guest Article: How Caregivers Can Help Seniors After Hip Replacement Surgery

Written by Jennifer Mesko of Drugwatch.com

When a patient has hip replacement surgery, the recovery and rehabilitation process can take several months. The patient will need someone around for a while to help them through this process. Caregivers play an important part in being there and providing a recovering patient with the support they need.

People who take on the role of a caregiver want to see the person they are caring for recover from their hip replacement surgery. There are certain things they need to know in order to help. Some caregivers may come from non-medical backgrounds, and there may be a few new things they need to learn how to do. Create a Safe Environment A person who receives a new hip will have limited movement and be very prone to injury. To avoid making the situation dangerous, a caregiver should create a home environment for the patient that is free of clutter and makes their everyday items easily accessible. Because the risk of falling with a newly implanted hip is very real, there are some easy things that need to be done around the house to make it a bit safer:

  • Remove loose throw rugs, and secure carpets
  • Widen paths between furniture to make room for walking devices (canes, crutches, etc.)
  • Make sure the home is well lit so a patient can see where they are going
  • Secure loose wires and extension cords

Recognize Possible Complications A person recovering from surgery is in danger of facing complications like dislocation, infection or blood clotting.

Prevent Dislocation: Leg muscles are weak during the first few months, and that is when dislocation is very likely to occur. Signs of dislocation include severe pain, possible shortening of the leg, or the inability to walk or move the leg. Patients should avoid it by not crossing their legs, twisting them from side-to-side or bending to pick up something from the floor.

Look for Blood Clots: Surgery may cause the blood to slow, causing blood clots. Blood clots can occur in either leg, so patients recovering from hip replacement surgery may be prescribed blood thinners. There are signs to look for if a person is clotting. There may be swelling in the thigh, calf or ankle that refuses to go down. People may also feel tenderness in several parts of the body, like the calf, knee or groin area. Walking or doing other exercises like foot or ankle  pumps can help to prevent blood clots, as can compression stockings. If symptoms of blood clots appear, the caregiver should take the patient to the hospital.

Be Aware of Metal Implants: One thing caregivers may not be aware of is that in recent years, thousands of hip implants were recalled by manufacturers like DePuy. These metal implants can fail early and can even lead to metal poisoning.  Because of these painful side effects, many patients have had to take legal action against Depuy.  Caregivers should speak to the patient’s doctor about what to look for.

Stay Alert Here are a few other things a caregiver needs to keep a close eye on:

Changes in Daily Function: There will be plenty of things the recovering person will have to readjust to in the beginning of the healing process. In the days following hip replacement, patients may lose their appetite. Caregivers should make sure to keep them hydrated, which could help them regain their hunger. Also, painful recovery may make sleeping difficult, so patients may need a nap during the daytime.

Pain and Discomfort: Pain, stiffness and discomfort are definitely things a patient will have to overcome in the early days following their surgery. Eventually it will go away, but until that time comes it will be tricky managing the discomfort that goes along with getting a new joint. Some pain is expected, but caregivers may want to try these things to help make the recovery period bearable:

  • Make sure the patient changes position every 45 minutes while resting.
  • Ice painful joints for 20 minutes each hour, or according to a doctor’s instructions.
  • Follow the medical provider’s recommendation for taking over-the-counter drugs in place of prescription pain meds.

Incision Care: Taking care of the incision helps in the healing process and protects the patient from infection. Caregivers should:

  • Keep the incision dry and covered with a light dressing until the staples are removed.
  • Keep an eye out for drainage, redness, pain or anything abnormal around the incision.
  • Monitor the patient’s temperature.

The success of hip replacement surgery depends on the patient’s dedication to getting better. A caregiver can play an important role in motivating that person through a process that starts slow and gets better gradually. If they can hang in there, hip replacement patients will get to a point where they experience less pain and more mobility than before the surgery.

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About National Care Planning Council

The National Care Planning Council and its affiliated members are dedicated to helping families recognize the need for long term care planning. We are committed to raising awareness and providing information on common eldercare issues. Integrity, honesty, and a genuine concern for the elderly and their families are at the heart of our services.

Posted on November 14, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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