Total Knee Replacement Surgery
Tips for Caring for Someone After Knee Replacement Surgery
Recovery can be a challenge for caregivers too. Get tips to help you help them.
Assist with the Basics
The first few days at home may be the most difficult. Your friend or family member is most likely to be tired and in pain, and may be frustrated or scared because it’s difficult for them to get around (he or she feels a loss of independence). This is the time you’re most needed. You may need to help with basic mobility—things like standing, sitting, and moving from room to room can be difficult. You may also need to help with basic grooming and getting the person to and up from the toilet. While you assist with these basics, it is helpful to be patient and realize that this experience is likely new and frustrating to the person recovering.
Help with Medications & Wound Care
It’s important to ensure that all medications are taken as prescribed. Try to be present with the doctor or nurse as he or she explains what medications are needed during the hospital stay and afterward. You may need to help gather the medications, keep the patient on schedule, and monitor and renew prescriptions from the pharmacy. You may also be needed to monitor and observe the wound—including swelling and inflammation, help change dressings, and acquire other medical supplies, including bandages, as needed.
Assist with Household Chores
A lack of mobility makes it extremely difficult for a postoperative knee replacement patient to keep up with household chores and prepare or obtain meals. You may need to assist with shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and various other household responsibilities. It’s also important to know and ensure that the patient is eating the right foods, taking prescribed supplements, and getting plenty of rest immediately following surgery.
Assist with Medical Appointments
It’s important to stay in close contact with the patient’s medical staff and communicate any issues that arise. You can help the patient by keeping track of scheduled appointments with their doctor and physical therapist. Skipping an appointment can lead to setbacks or complications. You may need to help arrange transportation or drive them to various medical appointments.
Provide Motivation for Rehab and Exercises
Adhering to a rehab plan is critical. Don’t be surprised to hear the patient say that exercises are painful and he or she wants to stop. You need to provide encouragement and ensure that the patient sticks to the plan. This means helping them keep track of the exercises and charting their results and progress.
Keep a List of Questions for Medical Professionals
It’s common for patients to have lots of questions after surgery and during rehabilitation. Keep a pen and paper pad handy (or a smartphone or tablet computer, if the patient prefers) so that it’s possible to make notes as questions arise. As you tend to the patient and work with him or her, you may also have questions of your own about proper care. It also helps to document the concerns you might have about the patient’s progress, so that you will remember to discuss them with their doctor or physical therapist at appointments.
It’s likely that your family member or friend is deeply focused on recovery. However, an outside perspective is helpful. If you notice any significant change in the patient’s physical condition or mental state, it’s important to contact a medical professional immediately. Complications from the surgery, changes in the wound, and side effects from medication must be addressed promptly.
Keep Up with Paperwork
A knee replacement is a complex procedure that requires many professional services. As a result, a flurry of bills and reports will arrive from multiple providers and locations over the span of several weeks. Dealing with the physical recovery process is incredibly stressful. Falling behind on paperwork and bills can add to anxiety. It’s likely that the patient will benefit by you staying on top of the paperwork.
Provide Emotional Support
Although a knee replacement is taxing physically, there’s also an important mental aspect to recovery and rehab. A patient may become frustrated or impatient with the pain or the perceived lack of progress. Poor mobility can impact the person’s attitude and sense of self-worth. By providing ongoing support and encouragement, you can help your family member or friend speed the recovery process, stay on track, and do the work needed for a full recovery.
Take Care of Yourself
You can’t care for someone else if you don’t take care of yourself. Take breaks and focus on staying patient and relaxed. You may want to go for a short walk, read a book, watch a movie, listen to music, or meditate.