Helping Seniors Recover After Surgery
When you or a loved one is getting ready for a surgical operation, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’ll need to do to recover. But planning for your recovery – and keeping an eye on ways you can avoid potential complications – can help you get back to everyday life faster and more easily.
Tutera Senior Living & Health Care communities stand ready to assist your family throughout the entire process. Even if you don’t seek support through one of our communities, we hope this guide is helpful as you craft a recovery plan that works for you.
POTENTIAL POST-SURGICAL COMPLICATIONS
There’s no universal set of complications that can occur after a surgery, but we’ll quickly discuss some of the most common ones. For example, hip replacements – especially those required as the result of a broken hip – carry many risks, including nerve damage and joint weakening leading to dislocation. Hip injuries are one of the most challenging to address, as the hip joint is one of the most used, most complex joints in the body.
No matter what surgery you or your loved one needs, you must remain keenly aware of the risk of blood clots and infection. Seniors are naturally more prone to clotting, which can lead to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke following an operation (depending on the patient’s current medications and overall health, a doctor may prescribe blood thinners to combat this). An older adult’s immune system is also generally less robust than a younger individual, so changing bandages frequently with clean hands is paramount.
HOW CAN OUTCOMES BE IMPROVED?
Here are a few things you can do at home to make it easier to recover. But before trying our tips, be sure to consult with your or your loved one’s primary care physician to make sure they’re right for you.
- DON’T DO TOO MUCH.
Once you’re cleared to go home after your surgery, it’s imperative that you take it easy. Your doctor should give you a clear picture of what activities you can do, how often you can do them and what things to avoid altogether. It might be tempting to return to your usual level of activity right away, but this can do a lot of harm.
- AVOID STAYING IN BED.
Like we said, you don’t want to overdo it – but going the opposite direction can be dangerous, too. Once your doctor has cleared you to get up and move around, don’t stay stuck in bed or glued to the couch. Rest is important, no doubt, but too much lying down can cause a lot of problems – like blood clots, pressure sores, muscular weakness and embolism. Moving around a little also aids in digestion and helps you feel less fatigued overall.
- STICK TO THE SCHEDULE.
Doctors aren’t perfect, but they know a heck of a lot more about your personal recovery than anyone else. If they’ve given you a schedule of medicines to complete, stick to the plan. While many will try to wean themselves off of pain medication before their script runs out, doing so can make it harder for you to move around and can delay your recovery.
- AVOID RETURNING TO WORK TOO SOON.
It can be tempting to try to get back to your regular schedule as soon as you feel like you can tough it out. Avoid this if at all possible! Why? You run the risk of overexertion and reinjury. And you may not be giving your body sufficient time to rest. It’s all about striking the right balance between recovery-boosting exercise (like you’ll find at physical therapy) and necessary rest. When in doubt, always ask your doctor.
- NEVER SKIP REHABILITATION.
If your doctor recommended a course of rehabilitative therapy for you, you have to do it. It can be easy to assume that you can just wait for things to feel better, but failing to keep up with physical therapy can lead to reduced strength, range of motion and overall functionality in the affected area – damage that can last a lifetime. Rehabilitation communities, like Tutera’s Charlton Place Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Deatsville, Alabama, offer individualized care plans that focus on helping residents to regain independence, mobility and strength in a nurturing, supportive, healing environment.
STAY FOCUSED ON NUTRITION
We all know the old truism – you are what you eat. It might sound a little cliché, but in the case of post-surgical care, it’s absolutely true. Think about it. Your body is attempting to rebuild vital structures, and it needs certain building blocks. At Auburn Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, meals are prepared by talented chefs with the help of dietitians to ensure snacks and meals are full of flavor and nutritional value to help our residents heal and grow stronger.
And again, we can’t stress enough the importance of heeding your doctor’s advice. You may have specific dietary restrictions that mean you can’t eat some of the things we’re about to talk about. Be sure to ask your doctor what kind of nutrition will help your unique recovery.
So, what do you eat to get better, faster? These nutrient-packed delicacies are a great place to start.
All sorts of delicious fruit – like grapes, pomegranates, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries – are packed full of antioxidants that help your body repair itself. They’re also loaded with vitamin C, which can help rebuild collagen and soft tissue faster.
Your body needs vitamins and minerals – so roughage like cabbage, spinach and Brussels sprouts are a great place to start. Vegetables with bright colors like carrots, bell peppers and sweet potatoes are also packed with bioavailable vitamins. The fiber will also aid your digestion.
Things like olive oil and avocados are full of good fats that aid in the absorption of vitamins and minerals. You’ll make the most of the other foods you eat and boost your immune system, too.
A tasty cut of meat is a dinnertime staple – and it can be healthful, too. The amino acids in protein are essential to muscular recovery. If you’re not a meat eater, you can enjoy beans, lentils, nuts and tofu as other good sources of dietary protein.
Antibiotics are obviously very commonly prescribed after a surgery, but they can wreak havoc on your stomach’s natural biome (that is, the healthy bacteria that keep your digestion regular). Combat this by eating foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi. These foods are high in good bacteria and can help restore your stomach to its pre-surgery state.
There’s one more magic ingredient to a good recovery – water! It seems obvious, but after a surgery, your body needs hydration more than ever. The advice we all grew up with to drink 8 glasses a day is technically a little outdated, but you won’t go wrong with drinking more water than you normally would.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROFESSIONAL HELP
Recovering at home is possible, but it’s certainly not ideal. Your home likely isn’t designed to be a comfortable, safe environment for a senior who has just left the hospital – and it doesn’t come complete with a full staff of highly trained nurses, caregivers or in-house cooks.
Our Tutera Senior Living & Health Care communities have the knowledge and experience to address each senior’s unique needs. With advanced physical, occupational and speech therapies, we have a treatment plan for all of the most common health concerns. And thanks to our 24-hour nursing support, you and your family will have real peace of mind that quality care is always available.
Want to learn more about Tutera Senior Living & Health Care? We’re always ready to answer your questions. Contact us today by calling 877-988-8372.
Learn more by clicking on the community links below:
Bethany Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Carlinville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Carnegie Village Senior Living Community
Charlton Place Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Coulterville Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Crystal Pines Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Dixon Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Fair Oaks Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Hamilton Memorial Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Highland Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Hillsboro Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Lakeland Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Mattoon Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Meridian Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Metropolis Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
Monterey Park Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
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Norterre - The Estoria
Northland Rehabilitation & Health Care Center
St. Paul's Senior Community
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Tiffany Springs Senior Living Community
The Village at Mission Senior Living Community
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