Caregiver Blog: Helping Elderly Patients on the Difficult Road to Recovery After Hip Surgery

Article Categories: Caregiver Tips and Tricks & Caregiver Skills

Hip injuries and diseases are very common in older people. Fractures in the hip happen to about nine out of ten people over 60 years of age. Poor eyesight, weakness, poor balance, confusion, and clutter on the floor are the most common reasons why the elderly fall and sustain hip injuries.

Another cause of hip problems in the older population is arthritis. Arthritis is a condition where the hip joints become unbearably painful, swollen, and stiff.

The main treatment for hip fracture and advanced arthritis is surgery. Patients with successful operations will need a lot of care and help from the healthcare team, including caregivers, not only because of the many adjustments they undergo afterward, but also because the recovery and rehabilitation process can take several months.

Complications after the operation are common, too, so caregivers are instrumental in ensuring their patient is in the best possible health and free from further injury, post-surgery.

Here are ways a caregiver can be a big help to patients who have had hip surgery:

1. For those who underwent total hip replacement, prevent complications such as dislocation.

Right after surgery, patients need to avoid certain movements because the newly implanted hip may move out of position. Patients are instructed to refrain from crossing their legs, twisting from side to side, bending over, or sitting on low seats.

Also, when the patient turns on their side, the operated side must be on top and a pillow should be placed in between the patient's thighs to keep the lower extremities apart.

Raise all seats, including the toilet, so that the patient does not bend the hips beyond what is allowed.

If you notice that they accidentally made these movements and they report severe pain in the hips and difficulty walking, you must call for emergency services.

2. Create an environment that is safe—clutter-free with everyday items within easy reach.

If the patient is receiving care in their home:

a. Remove loose throw rugs, secure carpets and loose cords
b. Ensure the patient has enough space to move around using their walking devices
c. Ensure that paths are well lit
d. Clean up floor spills immediately
e. Provide a call bell so they can ask for assistance when needed

3. Keep falls prevention a priority.

Falls may be the reason why a patient sustained injury to their hips and, after surgery, they become at risk again because their legs are weaker and difficult to move, so avoid tripping and falling accidents at all costs.

4. Assist with ADLs.

Because patients will have difficulty moving about after their operation, help them with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and grooming. Assist them as they transfer from one place to another, for example, from bed to chair.

5. Help them put on compression stockings, if required.

Patients who underwent hip surgery are at risk of forming blood clots that can clog blood vessels and cause harm. The use of compression stockings prevents the pooling of blood in the lower legs and can help prevent this complication.

6. Consider using a bedside commode with raised toilet seats.

Having a portable toilet nearby could be a lifesaver, because the patient does not need to frantically rush to the bathroom, which can cause them to trip and fall. Choose a commode with raised seats or install one on their existing seat.

7. Help the patient take their medications as ordered.

Right after surgery, the nurse gives patients their medications, but once they are brought home to further recover, it is the caregiver's responsibility to remind patients when their medications are due and to help take them as prescribed.

8. Ensure proper nutrition and adequate hydration.

Surgery causes a lot of stress physically and emotionally, and patients can lose weight and possibly also their appetite. Patients will definitely benefit from eating the right kinds of food and staying adequately hydrated.

9. Strictly follow doctor’s orders.

After hip surgery, the doctor will give a lot of instructions on patient care, including medications, care for their surgical wound, use of assistive and walking devices, follow-up schedules, and identifying signs and symptoms of possible complications.

It is important that caregivers are informed of all these instructions so they are prepared to properly care for their patients.

10. Support the patient at their physical therapy sessions.

Physical therapy aims to bring back or improve physical abilities that were affected by an illness. If the doctor has ordered certain exercises or a schedule for turning your patient, follow their recommendations exactly.

11. Offer emotional support.

Hip surgery is a big deal. Be patient and kind. When patients become difficult, be empathetic and understanding. Help them keep their independence in ways that are safe for them.

The road to recovery after hip surgery is long and difficult, and older people especially need all the help they can get to maintain their wellbeing and improve their function. Caregivers can be instrumental in making life after surgery a lot easier!


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