While many people would like to age as though they’ve sipped from the Fountain of Youth, the reality of aging is that different systems in the body tend to break down over time. Two of the most common ailments for aging adults are hip replacements and knee replacements. And although there are ways to delay the inevitable through non-invasive treatments, most people with hip or knee problems end up needing surgery.
Many people put off the surgery, not because of necessity, but because of the added cost of an extended hospital or rehab stay during recovery from hip replacement or knee replacement. A recent New York Times article, however, entitled, “After Hip or Knee Replacement, No Place Like Home,” provides hope for those who are interested in home-based hip or knee replacement recovery instead of in a rehabilitation facility.
In fact, the article states that “even if joint replacement patients live alone, the overwhelming majority recover equally well and may experience fewer complications if they go home directly from the hospital and get outpatient rehabilitation instead of spending days or weeks in a costly rehab facility.”
Patients recovering from knee or hip replacement that also live alone used to be a red flag for doctors and occupational therapists, and they would be automatically greenlit for rehab. But an Australian research study cited in the New York Times article found that “patients who live alone and can perform a home exercise program recover just as well with home-based rehab as patients who spend 10 days in a rehab facility.”
So, what do you need to do in order to return home for your recovery after hip surgery?
Get Prepared Before Your Surgery
If your goal is to return home after hip or knee surgery rather than head to rehab, you need to talk to your physician about it beforehand. Assuming they give you approval to recover from surgery at home, find out exactly what they need you to do in order to safely return. While our checklist covers most of the bases, your physician will have all of the specifics you need in order to ensure a safe and speedy recovery after hip surgery.
Put A Support System In Place
When you live alone, you’re used to a certain amount of autonomy and independence, but when you are recovering from knee or hip surgery you’re going to need additional help around the house. Whether that means enlisting friends, family, neighbors, or an in-home caregiving service to come check on you throughout the recovery process, be sure to have that support system in place to help you with meal preparation, laundry, light housework, or just some good old-fashioned company.
Have A Safety Net
If you are not going to arrange for round-the-clock help during your recovery after surgery, let Medical Guardian help you instead. As a much more affordable option than paying a caregiver to stay with you, and in place of family who can’t stay with you through the night, a Medical Guardian medical alert system gives you a direct line to help should you need it, no matter what time of day, or night.
Change Your Setup
If you have a two-story home, you should plan to put a hospital bed that is low to the floor somewhere on the first floor. If you cannot arrange for a hospital bed, pull a mattress onto the floor to make it easier for you to get up from and onto the bed when you are in hip or knee replacement recovery.
Mitigate Fall Risks
Nothing could be worse for your recovery after hip surgery or knee replacement surgery than a fall at home. In order to minimize fall risks at home, be sure to create a recovery space that is free of clutter, secure rugs to the floor, keep electrical cords secured or tucked away behind furniture, install nightlights, and keep a clear path to a bathroom at all times.
Create A Recovery Kit
In the space where you will be recovering from surgery, put together a little basket filled with snacks, magazines, bottled water, books, medications, eye glasses, cell phone chargers, tissues and any other items you might need during your hip or knee replacement recovery.
Make Recovery A Success
By following both doctor’s orders and the checklist above, you should be able to successfully recover from a knee or hip replacement in your own home. The New York Times quoted Dr. William J. Hozack, an orthopedic surgeon at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University who spoke at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and said, “We found that patients living alone were able to safely recover without any increase in the rate of complications. Even more strikingly, patients were generally happy and content being in the comfort of their own home during recovery.” Doesn’t that sound like the better option?