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Aging Alone: How to Prepare For Surgery

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Aging Alone: How to Prepare For Surgery

Let me start by saying, these recommendations are not given by a healthcare professional. Instead, it’s written by a patient who had hip surgery and her suggested ideas on how to prepare.

Weeks before the hospital stay, due to her single and alone status, she prepared diligently to make sure her home was properly equipped for a speedy recovery and made sure she could handle all her tasks of daily living.
 

The following should not replace the advice of your doctor and other medical professionals familiar with your case. The physician’s office and hospital staff may have after care resources to help patients recovering with limits or no outside support.

Resources:

  • Facebook groups – “search” on FB for these closed groups. You will need to request to join
  • Total Hip Replacement Forum – Look for the one that’s headed up by a professional physical therapist. This particular group admin and therapist had both hips replaced. She is an outstanding resource.
  • Nextdoor.com – a private social networking site for neighborhoods. Connect with neighbors, and find information specific to a neighborhood. Often there are teenagers looking for odd jobs during the summer break, and they might be a great source of help
  • YouTube – search topics such as “preparing for hip surgery”, “hip surgery recovery” and “how to dress after hip surgery” for ideas
  • Rover.com – to locate people providing pet care services for a fee
  • Go to https://holdmail.usps.com/holdmail/ – To have your mail held while you are away from home, and then resume upon return
     

For the Home – get these before going to the hospital due to mobility issues:

  • Clean the house, particularly kitchen and bathroom
  • Do laundry (linens, towels, clothing)
  • Put clean linens on bed
  • Pick up throw rugs and tack down loose carpeting
  • Remove electrical cords and other obstructions from pathways
  • Install night lights in bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways
  • Place all items that you use regularly at or above waist level since you’re unable to bend

Transportation & Delivery Services – You cannot drive, due to pain medication and weakness in the leg – particularly if it is the right hip. (I was not released to drive until my 4-week follow-up exam.) Schedule a ride with UBER, LYFT or a taxi in advance. Or have the hospital schedule a medical transport service. (Ask for a ride on your neighborhood Nextdoor.com.)

Post hospital, you will need pain and other medications at home.
 

Find and contact a courier service before surgery, explain what and where they will pick up and deliver. Get information about rates and turnaround. Rates are normally higher outside weekday business hours. Check on Nextdoor.com or on Amazon for a partner pharmacy that delivers.

Food – Nutrition is important for healing and recovery. The freezer is invaluable. Shop and prepare food before surgery, and freeze in single serving containers and prepare for a 4-week supply. Keep fresh fruit handy. Make a list of grocery stores and restaurants that deliver.

Related: 8 Ways to Celebrate Your Birthday Alone

Assistive Devices & Supplies – First scout the local thrift and resale shops for items, and contact the local senior services, or your faith organization, to see if they loan out items:

  • Walker – hospitals may arrange for one, supplied via insurance, but there may be a co-pay (mine was $15). I often see these at thrift stores
  • Cane – you will eventually migrate from walker to cane. Get a foldable one, since you’ll wean off as you strengthen. You may want to take it with you in case it’s needed, and a foldable is simple to carry
  • Grabber – if budget allows, buy two, because you will drop one and not be able to bend over to retrieve
  • Tub Transfer Bench – used for bathing if you have a tub or a combination tub/shower
  • Shower chair – use if you have a walk-in shower, but no built-in seat, check out the local thrift stores.
  • Detachable Hand-Held Shower Head – facilitates bathing, to hold and to direct water while you sit.
  • Pre-Moistened Disposable Wash Cloths – to use when you don’t feel strong enough to bathe.
  • Grab Bars for Shower or Tub
  • Raised Toilet Seat with Arms
  • Sock Aid – necessary for pulling on socks, as you are not able to bend down or over for weeks
  • Long-Handled Shoe Horn – facilitates putting on shoes, without bending
  • Slip-on, supportive shoes – you cannot tie shoelaces. Check out a product called “Hickies,” it converts shoes/sneakers from tie to slip-on. (www.hickies.com)
  • Leg Lifter aid – assists in lifting and guiding your operated leg into the bed.
  • Ice Packs – to reduce swelling; I used a few packages of frozen peas.
     

Pets – I boarded my dog for two weeks. Try Rover.com to locate pet care services or Google ‘pet sitter.’

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