Recovering from surgery can be a long and painful process if seniors aren't prepared with the proper support and mindset. They should also know which steps to take following their release from the hospital to prevent infection and incidents like falling. Health professionals can help their patients by informing them of essential tips for before and after surgery.
As soon as seniors decide that surgery is their best option, health professionals should start educating them on what they can expect from the entire process. The National Institute on Aging explained that before surgery it's important to touch on everything from the possible side effects of the medication they will be taking after their procedure to the amount of physical activity they can expect to be able to do during recovery.
Here are a few points that you, as a health professional, should speak to your patients about to ensure their recovery process goes smoothly:
1. Making the proper arrangements
The NIA noted that surgery can cause anxiety and stress, but having a good idea of what's coming will alleviate a lot of these negative emotions and get seniors in the right mindset. Remind them that they may be sore and have a hard time walking with ease during the first few weeks after their operation. If they don't reside at an assisted living community, encourage them to create a safe environment at home where they will want to have equipment, such as grab bars and nonstick mats, to reduce their risk of falling.
Make sure that patients have received a list of instructions and advice for their recovery to have at home once they're discharged, explained the source. Include your contact information as well, in case they need to get in touch with you for assistance.
2. Getting enough support
One of the most crucial factors to a healthy recovery is having the right support. You may consider suggesting a respite care home for patients who live alone and don't have anyone committed to assisting them. Here, seniors will find trained professionals to keep them safe and healthy during recovery.
3. Preventing infection
Seniors should know the warning signs of infection before they undergo surgery. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control pointed out that while not many patients experience an infection following surgery, 1 to 3 out of every 100 individuals who have a procedure will. Common symptoms of infection include redness and swelling around the operated area, fever, and a buildup of liquid around the wound. According to the CDC, patients who smoke are more likely to get an infection at the site of the surgical wound, so be sure to educate these seniors in particular.
4. Taking medication
It's common for older adults to experience difficulty when it comes to remembering when and how much of their medications to take. The NIA recommended talking to your patients and their caregivers to stress the importance of taking their medications on schedule during the recovery process. You can also suggest medical adherence mobile apps, which work to ensure seniors remember to take their medicine. This is particularly helpful for patients who are living at home with limited support.
5. Knowing how much physical activity is OK
Communication with patients after surgery is essential so you can ensure they're getting in the right amount of physical activity. Encourage them to always check in with you before trying a new stretch or light exercise. However, The Washington Post noted that it's also important to remind patients that excessive inactivity after their release from the hospital can lead to problems like blood clots.