Tuesday, October 22, 2013
What follows is a guest article by Julian Hills, staff writer for Drugwatch.com
"Caregivers play an important role after hip replacement surgery.
They do not replace the doctor or surgeon, but in many ways they pick up where those health care professionals leave off. Caregivers become an important part of the recovery process by filling in the gaps at home. The caretaker may have to prepare the house to make it a comfortable place to recover for the patient, help administer pain medication, watch out for complications and encourage physical therapy progress.
There are a lot of post-operation issues for a caretaker to keep track of. The prospect of taking care of someone after hip replacement surgery may be an overwhelming task, but caregivers can make the process easier on the patients and themselves if they take certain steps.
Prepare for a Comfortable Recovery
When a patient arrives home after surgery they should have easy access to everything they use on a daily basis, including books, food, medication and the TV remote. Caregivers should make sure those items are in a centralized location that requires little effort for the patient to reach.
Safety is important for a recovering patient. Caregivers should make sure that rugs are taken off the floor to reduce the risk of falling or dislocating the new joint. Furniture should be moved around so the patient can have ample room to maneuver.
Patients with a new hip have to avoid bending too far or too much and dislocating the hip. There will be other parts of daily life where the patient will need someone to step in and help them, including driving and setting up the bathroom.
· Driving: The caregiver may be the designated driver for at least six weeks. Surgeons do not recommend that a person recovering from a hip replacement get behind the wheel for at least that long.
· Getting Dressed: Healing patients will need help getting dressed as well. Occupational therapists can provide tools like shoe horns that can aid in the dressing process.
· Bathroom Activities: There will definitely have to be arrangements made in the bathroom, including a raised toilet seat. Activities like baths and showers will be off limits for a few weeks. Caregivers may have to help with sponge bath duties.
Keep an Eye Out for Post-Surgery Complications
Caregivers must be aware about possible complications that can arise. Hip replacements have a good track record for success, and the risk of complications following surgery is relatively low.
Joint infection occurs in less than 2 percent of people who have the surgery. It’s important for people recovering from hip replacement to take antibiotics if they schedule a dental appointment shortly after surgery.
Blood clots are more common complications and can be deadly if they spread to the brain, heart or lungs. Caregivers need to be aware of the signs of blood clots. Some of the symptoms include:
· Swelling that does not decrease
· Skin that is warm to the touch
· Shortness of breath
· Chest pain
· Enlargement of veins near skin surface
The surgeon may prescribe a blood thinner to prevent blood clots.
Some hip implants have been shown to cause injury and complications. Information about the ones to avoid can be found on our website: http://www.drugwatch.com
Caretakers should know what to watch for and be aware that defective implants are a possibility.
Understand the Importance of Physical Therapy
Physical therapy begins just days after surgery and intensifies as time goes on. The purpose of therapy is to strengthen the patient’s hip joint and regain movement.
Therapy can last for months. The physical therapist will create a workout routine for the patient. As time goes on and the patient begins to regain range of motion, activities will elevate from simple walking and graduate to normal household activities. The recovery process can become painful and sometimes hard on the patient.
Caregivers can play an important role as cheerleader.
After time passes, people with hip replacements can participate in activities such as walking, swimming, dancing and golf. Those activities are great stress relievers that people can participate in with partners. Having activities the patient and caretaker can do together can lighten up the healing process and provide both people some much-needed fun.
Caretakers Need to Take Care of Themselves
Caretakers not only have to make sure the patient is OK, but they have to take care of themselves.
There is a lot to do when caring for someone recovering from hip replacement surgery. It can become stressful and overwhelming. It is important for the caretaker to have some time off.
One thing to keep in mind is having a social network of family members, friends or church members who may be able to step in and give a ride or help with chores to take some of the responsibility off the caretaker’s shoulders.
Being prepared and knowing what to expect will alleviate some of the stresses involved in the caretaking process."
Julian Hills, staff writer for Drugwatch.com