Learn about how you can be prepared for joint replacement surgery with Seniorly. Planning ahead for surgery and recovery will make things much smoother.
Is a joint replacement surgery in the near future for you or your loved one? Though the prospect may sound daunting, it is important to remember that this particular type of surgery has high success rates, alleviates thousands of seniors from pain, and allows older adults to experience increased independence and improved mobility.
While each person’s joint surgery experience will be unique, the outcomes are relatively similar. Below are four key pieces of advice to consider as you or your loved one prepares for joint replacement surgery.
The first step for any family preparing for joint replacement surgery is to get educated about what to expect. It is vital to have accurate expectations so that there are no surprises following a joint replacement surgery. To get a head start with surgery preparations, Cleveland Clinic has provided an excellent overview of joint replacement surgery.
Aside from your own research, consider scheduling a pre-surgery discussion with a primary care provider (PCP), the surgeon, your loved one, and yourself. Topics to discuss can include resources to learn more about your specific joint replacement surgery, an outline of the recovery process, and advice for pain management post-surgery. Speaking with professionals will help clear any confusion or misunderstanding from online resources, as well as ensure that you are receiving quality and personalized information.
During the doctor visits leading up to the surgery, expect to participate in general health checkups and full blood work. These diagnostic tests help determine your overall well-being and enable doctors to notice any issues that may hinder your surgery process. If you have any other health concerns or worries about the surgery, reach out to your healthcare provider.
Like most recovery processes, you should expect some pain, bruising and swelling after surgery; you may want to ask your healthcare provider about typical symptoms versus concerning symptoms to look out for. As you continue your recovery, you should expect that the pain and swelling will go down, discoloration should fade, and your joint will gradually loosen up. Having these expectations in mind will guide you towards a smooth recovery, as you will be fully aware of what to expect.
Hopefully, you or your loved one has tried physical therapy to avoid a joint replacement surgery. If that hasn’t been as effective as you had hoped, the exercises being performed in physical therapy should be stopped, right? Wrong.
Even though surgery is on the horizon, you or your loved one must continue to be active and exercise. This phase of the preparation process is commonly referred to as “prehab.” The more prepared you are (strong, mobile, with good conditioning), the better off you will be after surgery. People that perform a prehab program prior to surgery typically have a much more pleasant recovery process with shorter hospital stays.
For many of us, stairs, curbs, or ramps are nothing to think about. However, during the first few days of recovery after a joint replacement surgery, these terrains can be much more difficult to traverse.
With this in mind, it is important to think about manipulating the home environment to be as mobile-friendly as possible; prepare for these changes ahead of time. These temporary modifications may involve moving furniture (ex: placing a bed on the main floor), getting appropriate assistive devices, and having gripped mats and socks to prevent falls while walking.
4. Be Prepared To Have A Good Experience
With proper education and preparedness, joint replacement surgeries are highly successful. The recovery journey may not be easy, but it’s worth the hard work to regain mobility, strength, and independence.
Here’s to the journey ahead!
Dr. Dustin Jones, PT, DPT, CSCS, RKC, is a home health physical therapist living in Lexington, Kentucky. He has a passion for serving people in their homes so they can be as independent and mobile as possible. He hosts the Senior Rehab Podcast which is the only podcast focused on geriatric rehabilitation.
To learn more about Seniorly's editorial guidelines, click here.
Seniorly’s Senior Living experts created a comprehensive handbook to help people age happily while ensuring they love where they live. Enter your email address below to receive your copy and learn more about Healthy Aging and Senior Living.*