In 2018, over 400,000 Americans had hip replacement surgery. While the hip replacement recovery period is highly individual – it can take anywhere from one month to half a year – the common denominator to everyone is that they’re going to need their caregivers, friends and relatives a lot more than usual.
If you have a loved one who’s had a hip replacement (or is going to have one), you might be nervous about your post-surgery role. What should you do? What do you need to know?
Let’s take a look. .
Your presence is a comfort.
Whether your loved one is going home or to a facility with hip replacement rehab services, the first thing you need to know is that showing up is crucial. According to neuroscience researchers at Ohio State University, the physical presence of friends and family has a major impact on post-surgery recovery.
So visit. Bring flowers. Bring a game. If your loved one is in too much pain to want to do anything, then just be there. It’s not about concrete help; it’s about emotional support.
You can help get them back to daily living.
One of the harder aspects of post-hip replacement surgery is getting back to the activities of daily living, or ADLs. If your loved one lives in a skilled nursing facility, they’ll have a lot of help with this. Don’t forget, though, that your assistance brings a personal, loving factor even the best staff member doesn’t have.
Try to get a feeling of your loved one’s schedule in the pre-surgery stage. That way you can plan and coordinate with other friends or family members when you’re not in real time. Does your loved one need meals prepared or brought to them? Do they need assistance with getting dressed and showering? Is it early morning that’s difficult, or getting ready for bed when they’re tired after a long day? Whatever your loved one needs, they’ll appreciate being able to lean on someone they love, rather than on strangers.
You can help them stay motivated.
Hip replacement recovery is not easy. Your loved one will need a lot of motivation, a lot patience and a lot of perseverance. It’s inevitable that they’ll experience low periods when they’re not going to have much in the way of inner strength.
You can help with that.
Medical teams and support staff can do a lot, but they can’t get your loved one motivated like you can. You know the ins and outs of family events, of the people who really matter. Words of encouragement like “Your great-niece was so excited that you’re on your feet again” mean something more when they come from the people who that great-niece actually spoke to.
You also know your loved one before the surgery. Only someone like you can remind them of the things they used to love doing and will soon be able to do again if they can just hang on.
You can see any warning signs first.
Depression is not uncommon in hip-replacement patients. Recognizing it can be tricky, though, because general fatigue and irritability are also quite common. Because you know your loved one well, you have the ability to realize when post-surgery blues might be something a bit more.
Keep an eye out for:
- Extreme changes in eating habits
- Chronic fatigue and/or irritability
- Insomnia and oversleeping
- Sentences like “I don’t want to go on” or similar expressions
- Uncharacteristic inability to make decisions
- Lack of interest in life or in activities they used to enjoy.
And we’ll state the obvious: If your loved one starts talking about self-harm, take no chances. Let their medical team or the staff at their residence know right away.
Are you a caregiver for someone who went through hip replacement surgery? Please share your tips in the comments below.