What to Expect: Post-Surgery Recovery for Seniors

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Donna Mae Scheib

What to Expect: Post-Surgery Recovery for Seniors

Posted by Donna Mae Scheib on April 12, 2018

What to Expect: Post-Surgery Recovery for Seniors

In the last century, the world of medicine has accumulated research, cutting-edge technology, and advanced medical practices to save lives using various medical procedures. However, no matter your age or medical condition, surgery of all kinds acts as an invasive procedure that can take a toll on your body. For seniors, advanced age and frailty concerns make post-operative care and recovery an important topic to consider.

Who should be involved in my recovery from surgery?

Going through either a major or minor surgery is not something that you have to endure alone. Although it is hard to lose a sense of autonomy by receiving help from others, surrounding yourself with a team ready to assist you in every way possible will help with your recovery process.

Here are a few people that you should reach out to:

Family/ Caregivers: Close family members, especially children of parents, can play a huge role in being a voice and providing care for a loved one post recovery. Families can also consider hiring caregivers to assist their loved ones with 24-hour support if need be.

Hospital Staff: For immediate post-surgery recovery, there will many staff members at the hospital ranging from floor nurses to therapists to make sure you are stabilized and on the road to recovery. It is estimated that during hospital stays, patients can have up to forty people come into their room each day. This may seem overwhelming and do not be afraid to request a personalized response from those entering your room, so you can be aware of their name, role, and their reason of being in your room.

Doctor: You probably will have a team of doctors as well creating a post-recovery plan of care suited to your needs. Be sure to have a family member or caregiver available when the doctor comes to speak to you so if you miss anything or become confused, someone else can write down important information and ask questions.

What can I do to help with my recovery process?

Nutrition: Sometimes surgeries require dietary restrictions that are important to follow. Family members can help loved ones follow this by helping to prepare meals and avoiding consuming the things that the person in recovery must avoid. Following a nutritious diet also helps the body to heal and to grow stronger.

Follow Rehabilitation Instructions: Being compliant with medical instructions from your doctor as well as following a rehabilitation plan of care is an important part of recovery. This includes everything from pain medications, other necessary prescriptions, use of ambulatory devices for an appropriate amount of time (like a wheelchair or a walker), following instructions from hospital staff, and trying to take a positive approach to rehab therapy to help heal and strengthen your surgery incision will all play a huge role in recovery. Seniors already have a higher risk of being hospitalized during the initial month of post-operative care, so following instructions carefully will help to minimize this risk.

Attend Post Surgery Appointments: Another critical part of recovery is continuing to attend appointments following your surgery including follow up visits with your doctor and any prescribed therapy. It is a good idea to bring along a family member or caregiver to help clarify any new instructions and for everyone to be aware of your current condition while helping you to recover.  

Relaxation Techniques: It is understandable that invasive procedures can be scary and wake up from surgery to realize your body’s current limitations is also frightful. Using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, listening to peaceful music, using spiritual exercises, and being in a calm environment surrounded by familiar faces may help to shorten your hospital stay and strengthen your immune system.

Seek help for physical and emotional concerns: Bouts of crying, anxiety, and confusion are normal reactions during post-surgical operations. Delirium can take place due to certain medications or stress that may cause paranoia. Be sure to reach out to voice your concerns and have family members help to reassure you calmly of your situation and the care and attention that you need to help your recovery.

Take Small Steps: While it is important to be cautious in your recovery, it is also important to keep moving forward in progression by taking small steps to regain as much independence as possible. Celebrating small progressions helps you to focus on positivity during your recovery rather than anguishing in thoughts of things that you still cannot do. It is also important to recognize that full recovery from surgery may be an unrealistic or extremely long term. Consider researching a senior living facility such as a skilled nursing center also known as a rehabilitation center and nursing home to help ease your recovery by receiving attentive care and support.  Visit Senior Living Link to search and learn about senior living options that are right for you or a loved one.