The recovery period after total knee replacement surgery is crucial to the success of your procedure. It’s a good idea to prepare your home before you’re discharged.

Hospital stays after a total knee replacement typically last one to four days. During this time, you’ll be busy resting up, taking care of your knee, and starting your physical therapy.

You won’t want to use your time in the hospital to plan all of your recovery details. Instead, it’s best to prepare your home for recovery well before your total knee replacement procedure.

Here are seven tips to help you get ready.

When it comes to knee surgery recovery, space in your home is key to safety.

Look around your home and envision enough space for a walker to fit. You may even want to use a measuring tape to make sure there are at least 3 feet (ft) of space for you to walk through.

To make space, consider things like moving furniture around, boxing up anything you don’t need, and placing electrical cords and wires out of the way.

The time leading up to your surgery is also your opportunity to clean your home. Dusting, vacuuming, and mopping will be off-limits for a while after a knee replacement.

While you won’t be walking much right after your knee surgery, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to move around your house. Walking is an essential part of your recovery.

A loss of balance and a need for space can increase the chance of a fall. Apart from decluttering, other preventive measures include:

  • installing a handrail in the bathtub or shower and next to the toilet
  • having a bath mat ready to prevent slipping
  • using a raised toilet seat
  • covering outside steps with ramps
  • adding texture to slippery floors
  • wearing nonskid socks
  • using a walking device until you’re more stable
  • installing nightlights

After returning from the hospital, you will likely be sitting for long periods as you recover.

It’s a good idea to designate a recovery area (such as the living room) and equip it with a sturdy, high chair that has arms and a solid back.

A recliner or footstool can also help elevate your knee and provide support for getting up. Keep necessary items within arm’s reach in your recovery area. These may include:

  • eyeglasses
  • phone/cellphone (and charger)
  • television remote
  • tablet
  • books
  • tissues
  • medications
  • bottles of water
  • snacks

Stairs can be tough to manage after knee surgery. You might consider converting a main floor space into a temporary bedroom to limit having to walk up the stairs.

Don’t plan to spend all your time in bed. Getting up and moving around is important for your recovery. Making the distinction between night and day will also help you maintain a regular sleeping pattern.

Learn more: How long it takes to recover from knee surgery.

Consider asking a friend or loved one to stay with you during the initial recovery period or arrange for in-home care.

Even if you live with a spouse or other family member, having an extra pair of hands available to help is always a good idea.

Arrange for assistance with:

  • changing bandages
  • monitoring your condition postsurgery
  • bathing
  • getting dressed
  • household chores
  • cooking meals
  • grocery shopping
  • paying bills and other related tasks
  • navigating stairs
  • taking care of dependent people in your household, such as children, a spouse, or older parents

The more help you have, the quicker and more successful your recovery will likely be.

Since you won’t be able to drive for a few months after knee surgery, you may also want to have a friend on hand in case you need them to drive you somewhere.

Will anyone be helping you after surgery? Learn more: 10 tips for caring for someone after knee replacement surgery.

You may not feel much like eating when you’re about to go into the hospital, but making some preparations for when you get home can help you keep up a healthy diet during your recovery.

If you live alone, consider the following options:

  • Stock up the freezer with ready meals.
  • Make sure you have access to online delivery of ready-made food or groceries.
  • Enlist the help of a friend or relative for shopping and cooking.
  • Invite someone to help you cook and join you in eating. This can help you maintain a social life during recovery.
  • Have a chair or stool in the kitchen that you can use to prepare your own food and drinks.

As far as possible, plan a balanced menu with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Nutritious food may boost your mood and help you recover more quickly.

Learn more: Vitamins and supplements for joint health and knee replacement success.

If you live alone or are responsible for your household, keep a list of essential telephone numbers near your chair and by your bed in case you need to ask for help at any time.

You may wish to include contact details for:

  • friends and family
  • your healthcare professional
  • your insurance provider
  • food delivery services
  • home help services, if you have assistance
  • your employer
  • any other numbers you frequently use

Make sure you have your telephone or mobile device within reach. If you will be communicating online, have a charger and power outlet handy.

If you are friendly with your neighbors, let them know your plans, as they may be happy to check on you from time to time.

Don’t be afraid to contact your healthcare professional, a friend, or a family member if a problem arises or if you have concerns about your wound or other issues.

What are must-haves after a total knee replacement?

Equipment you’ll need to have handy after you’re discharged from knee replacement surgery includes a walking aid like a cane or crutches, a comfortable chair, a sock aid and a shoehorn, a shower seat, and more.

What mistakes do people make after knee surgery?

Most people recover well after knee replacement surgery. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you’re not careful after knee replacement surgery, you could accidentally twist or put pressure on your new joint. If you don’t properly take care of your wound and keep the incision clean, you can also introduce an infection.

In addition, remember that if you’re taking narcotic medications for pain, you should avoid driving while you’re on them. Another mistake that can prove dangerous is not getting immediate medical attention for unusual pain or swelling.

What else should I know about recovery before my knee replacement?

It’s important to stay in communication with your provider to make sure you’re not resuming activities too soon before your knee is ready.

Follow all of your doctor’s guidelines and take all of your prescribed medications. While you’re recovering, pay attention to possible signs of knee replacement complications such as blood clots or infection.

The better prepared your home and living space, the better you will be able to cope during recovery, and the easier it will be to cope with problems and complications, should they arise.

If you don’t make preparations in advance, you may face added complications upon your return. This could lead to an increased risk of infection, depression, and anxiety.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about all of your post-op recovery needs to make sure you haven’t missed anything.

You can never prepare too much. The better ordered your home, the greater the likelihood of a smooth knee surgery recovery.