October 22, 2018

For many millions of adults, growing older means occasionally having to go in for surgery or another major medical procedure.

And for older adults, it can often take longer to fully recover from surgery. In the days, weeks, or even months after treatment, it might prove important to provide your loved one with additional attention and care, offering assistance around the house, emotional support, and more.

For family caregivers, even those used to providing lots of care and attention to their aging loved ones, it can be tough to provide so much support in the period following a surgery. Recovery can be difficult, and the extra strain and stress won’t just impact the senior, but their family and friends.

So, as you prepare to help your aging loved one recuperate from surgery or an operation, what can you do to make things easier on yourself, as well as the patient? Here are a few helpful ideas to keep in mind:

1.) Prepare Their Living Space Ahead of Time

Your parent might need attention in their hospital room or rehab facility after surgery; it might help if you’ve prepared to provide care there ahead of time. This might mean enlisting the help of family and friends, hiring a professional caregiver, or taking steps to clear your schedule and make sure you have time ready to give.

After surgery, it might also be important to get your loved one’s home ready. For instance, before they get discharged from the hospital, it may helpful to stock the fridge and pantry. If your loved one will have difficulties with movement, you may need to make up a sleeping area downstairs. You may also need to take steps to make sure that their bathroom and front door are easily accessible while your loved one is recovering.

2.) Keep a Close Eye on Their Physical and Mental State

After surgery, it is important to be watchful of your loved one’s physical and mental state, and to provide assistance in any way you can.

The effects of a surgery can take many forms. For instance, your loved one may experience side effects of a medication. In other cases, older adults find their sleep habits or mood affected after a major surgery. And following many physical surgeries, your loved one may experience some lasting physical effects, both expected (such as weakness at the site of the operation) and unanticipated (such as infections, or other unforeseen complications).

Similarly, your loved one may be affected mentally following a procedure. Is your aging relative ignoring doctor’s orders and trying to overexert themselves? Are they sullen or despondent? Do they seem to be confused or foggy? There could be numerous causes behind these symptoms.

Bottom line? It’s important to take note of your senior’s physical and mental wellbeing, so that you can bring this information up in discussions with their healthcare providers.

3.) Be Patient and Supportive

Following surgery, your loved one may be dealing with a lot – oftentimes, their thoughts and feelings run even deeper than they may let on!

Weariness, pain, exhaustion, anxiety or depression about their physical symptoms or loss of independence – all of these are commonplace after a major medical event.

As a caregiver, it’s up to you to be patient, empathetic, and supportive of your loved one’s wants and needs. Be willing to listen to your loved one’s thoughts and concerns. In addition to helping with housework, chores, and grooming, one of the single most important things a caregiver can do is to be present, open, and attentive. Just having an open ear and a kind smile nearby could do wonders to brighten your loved one’s day, and aid in their recovery.

At the same time, it’s important to help your loved one maintain or reclaim their independence over time. Be supportive, and, as your loved one regains their strength and range of motion, encourage them to take charge of their lives, as much as is realistically possible.

And be present and thoughtful of your parent’s needs, particularly if progress in recovery is slower than they may have hoped. In these times, having a caregiver provide solidarity and attention can do wonders for an aging adult’s spirits.  

4.) Assist With Exercises, Doctor’s Visits, and Follow-Up Steps

After surgery, your loved one may be overwhelmed by the deluge of follow-up steps they have to take, including new exercises, new medication regimens, follow-up appointments, rehab or physical therapy sessions, dietary changes, and more.

To help your loved one, it might help if you assist them with scheduling, so that all of the dates and times don’t become too overwhelming. You might also want to provide reminders to your loved one about when it’s time to exercise, take their pills, or get ready for an appointment. At doctor’s or physical therapy appointments, be sure to take notes, listen for instructions, and ask follow-up questions that your loved one may not think to ask for themselves.

Bottom line? In many cases, it may be up to you, another family member, or a professional caregiver to make sure that your loved one keeps up with their post-surgery recovery checklist, and provide assistance and support with focus and care.

5.) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Caring for a loved one after surgery can be a lot to take on alone. In addition to helping your aging loved one remember their medications and exercises, you may also be responsible for helping with grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning, and providing emotional support.

While being a caregiver for the senior in your life is an act of incredible love and compassion, it can be a challenge – particularly if you have other responsibilities to tend to, like work or kids of your own.

As your parent recovers after surgery, you may want to enlist the support of your network of family or friends. In other cases, your loved one may benefit from the personalized care and support of a professional in-home caregiver or companion.

A professional companion can step in and help out as much or as little as your family needs, offering assistance with activities of daily living, meal prep, driving, and more. What’s more, an in-home caregiver can provide emotional support and a friendly, welcoming face, at a time when your loved one may need it most. At the same time, this companion can help transport your loved to doctor’s appointments, while also keeping an eye out for post-surgery complications or side effects.

About Companions for Seniors

Do you think your loved one could benefit from the attention and companionship that a professional caregiver can provide? Do you have any questions, or want to discuss what may be the best course of action for you and your loved one? Companions for Seniors would be happy to help; don’t hesitate to get in touch today!

At Companions for Seniors, our companions are trained, bonded insured, and can help your family shoulder some of the burden of caring for an aging loved one. We are locally owned and operated in Chicago, with clients in the city and suburbs.

We help provide seniors with a higher quality of life, while also offering respite and peace of mind for a family caregiver who might need some support. Our companions help stimulate our clients physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, empowering them to live an active and enriched lifestyle in the comfort of their own homes. We also offer companionship services in hospitals or treatment centers.

Have any questions about Companions for Seniors? Want to get in touch? Don’t hesitate to give us a call, or fill out our contact form available here.