Each year more than 370,000 people have total hip replacement surgery. During this common procedure an artificial joint replaces a swollen or inflamed joint. Many seniors experience significant pain relief after this elective surgery, but it's important to take care of yourself during the recovery period. Decrease the risk of developing post-surgery complications by implementing the following recommendations.
After surgery, many seniors need a cane or walker until their hip heals. This precaution helps reduce the amount of weight you put on your lower body so you can move around without discomfort. It also helps keep your stitches or staples from coming undone.
If you aren't used to using this equipment, you may struggle to navigate your surroundings. It's easy to bump into items when you have a walker, and you may find yourself getting caught on carpet edges or rugs. Prepare for these potential issues in advance by reducing clutter and removing lightweight rugs. Also, make sure you have plenty of space to move yourself and your cane or walker through your home.
You may also want to modify your home to make things more accessible after your surgery. Keep essential items near your nightstand or sofa, and install a shower bar or toilet bar so you can move more safely.
This suggestion covers two areas: body weight and the weight of objects you lift while cleaning or running errands. Both types of weight can hinder your recovery.
When you have excess body weight, it adds pressure onto your joints — even ones that are made from resilient metal or plastic. This can delay your recovery and even result in additional issues over time, such as knee pain or a hernia. Do some light exercises when your doctor gives you the okay, and make sure your diet includes fresh produce, lean meats and low-fat dairy products.
Your body doesn't necessarily know the difference between your weight and external weight that comes from you holding heavy objects, such as large bags of dog food or cat litter. Bend at the knees when you lift heavy objects, and avoid lifting anything too heavy until you recover fully from your surgery. Your doctor may recommend waiting anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months before lifting heavy objects.
After hip replacement surgery, you may experience painful swelling in your lower body. Elevating your legs with pillows or wedges when you lay down helps reduce swelling, so you have less pain during your recovery.
Even if you don't elevate your legs, your doctor may give you other instructions for the correct ways to sit or stand. For example, your doctor may recommend that you avoid crossing your legs during the recovery period. He may also ask you to wear compression stockings or perform light stretches because this helps to prevent blood clots from forming and circulating.
Many elderly patients ignore their surgeon's advice. Sometimes it's because they don't feel the suggestions are helpful, or they might forget their doctor's recommendations altogether. Ask for a printout of post-surgery suggestions from your medical providers, and don't be afraid to ask questions if you need clarification.
Your recovery process may include physical therapy or home exercises. Don't skip these exercises, as doing so may prolong your recovery period. Your doctor may also ask you to avoid bathing for a specific time frame. This is because water and steam can make it difficult for your wound to heal, and you may accidentally remove stitches or staples.
Keep an eye on your wound as you recover, and watch for signs of infection, such as redness or increased pain. Contact your doctor if anything seems off about your recovery, even if you're unsure that something is wrong.
Hip and joint replacement surgery can help you live a pain-free life, but only if you follow your doctor's recommendations before and after the procedure. Try the tips above so you can make a full recovery and enjoy your golden years comfortably, including dining on gourmet meals at Brightview Senior Living or challenging your buddies to a game of golf.