Planning for your joint replacement recovery starts in the weeks leading up to surgery. One of the major pre-op boxes you’ll need to check off your list is “home readiness.” In other words, is your home set up in a way that minimizes hazards and makes it easy for you, your support network, and home healthcare personnel to navigate? Here are a few tips from Dr. Eric Cohen and Amedisys, Inc. – one of University Orthopedics’ home health care partners.
Set up everything you need on one-level of your home
Make a list of the things you need access to every day during your joint replacement recovery (bed, bathroom, medications, food, water, phone charger, etc.), and plan to have these items close by in your temporary one-level layout. The fewer stairs you need to navigate during the first few days of recovery, the safer and smoother your transition home will be.
Remove tripping hazards
Home décor like loose rugs and throw rugs seem harmless, but these items can be dangerous for recovering patients. Small children’s toys and pet toys can also be cumbersome post-op. Before surgery, create a smooth, level surface to walk on safely.
Declutter to create wider pathways and space
Temporarily rearrange furniture like chairs, couches, recliners, and coffee tables to make wider spaces for a walker to fit through. Don’t completely remove this furniture as your home physical therapist will use items like a chair for your recovery exercises and stretches.
Prep and freeze meals ahead of time
Cooking and freezing before your surgery will give you one less task to think about while you recover. Additionally, patients have found it helpful to purchase milk and other drinks in smaller containers to make it easier to pour and hold beverages while using a walker or cane.
- RELATED: More Joint News »
Place nightlights in the hallway and bathroom
Sleep will be interrupted by a pain management schedule, especially in your first few days home. Having a well-lit pathway will make it easier for you to be up and about during the wee hours.
Ask family and friends for help
Your loved ones can be helpful resources to help you with common household tasks during your first few weeks of recovery. If your network of local friends and family is limited, consider asking a trusted neighbor for help or reach out to a home healthcare resource like Amedisys, Inc. Creative online resources like grocery delivery services are also useful.
Invest in a grasper
Tools like a grasper can help extend your reach while sitting. This tool is relatively inexpensive and can be purchased at local hardware stores, pharmacies, and through online retailers like Amazon.
Prepare for home PT and nurses
Expect visits from your physical therapist and home nurses. To make answering the door easier, make arrangements to let these healthcare providers into your home. Lockboxes for a spare key or installing a digital keypad might be a good solution for you.
Follow COVID-19 preventative measures
Remember to keep a facemask and hand sanitizer readily available to keep yourself and visitors safe. Check out these tips from the CDC for more information.
Keep your cellphone close by in case of an emergency
Even in the safest home, falls can happen. Keep your cellphone charged and on-hand, especially if you live alone. If you happen to fall during your recovery, call your doctor (and 911) immediately.
Ice, ice baby
Ice can help reduce inflammation and pain after surgery. You will want to secure a handful of ice packs and put them in your freezer ahead of time. There are also specialized ice therapy machines that circulate ice around your joint. These can be purchased or rented ahead of time. Be sure to talk to your surgeon and home therapist about proper icing technique and duration.
Get ready to move!
It is important to get moving right after a hip or knee replacement, but you need to do so safely. Patients will initially walk with crutches or a walker after surgery and then progress to a single point cane. If you do not have these assistive devices already, you may be able to borrow them from a friend or neighbor, or you can purchase them through University Orthopedics prior to surgery. Our experts will make sure your device is personalized for you.