Undergoing a major surgery can be one of the most stressful, and emotionally and physically taxing periods of a person’s life.
Even if the surgery has been scheduled for months, it still doesn’t prepare the individual and people around them for the radical changes to come.
Many people report that after someone close to them has surgery, they never expected the impact that their temporary immobility would have. In particular, circumstances may be more difficult if that person is a parent and responsible for the cooking, cleaning, driving, running after kids, and doing their own job!
It is absolutely imperative that prior to surgery, plans are set into place for the individual’s recovery and also what will happen once they aren’t functioning as ordinary.
If their partner is working full time or they live alone, who will help them drive to appointments? What about grocery shopping and cooking? How will someone also be able to care for them, both during triumphs and setbacks?
These are all the types of issues that need to be considered pre-surgery and some of the best ways to care for someone you know in recovery.
From our experiences, and listening to the stories of our patients, these are our careful tips to helping someone you know after surgery.
Make a schedule
Some people are lucky enough they have a family member who can take a few weeks off their job and be the full-time carer.
Others, not so much.
For most, it can be a patchwork of having their mum and dad one day, their partner on the weekends, and friends dropping around now and then.
It is important to work together as a family unit and prepare and a detailed schedule of who, when and how long someone will be with the patient.
Plan for any necessary appointments, driving children to events, a meal plan, and even time for the patient to leave their bed. Make sure people are around if they simply want to spend an hour out for lunch or in the park.
Before they even leave the hospital, make sure another person is attending a post-surgery appointment with the doctor. Not only is that important so they have a physical support, but to ensure the patient isn’t left to ask all the questions about their recovery.
It is completely normal they will feel in pain and tired after surgery so to expect them to ask and then remember critical answers is extraordinary.
If you are attending the appointment, have a list of issues you want to discuss such as medications, exercises, or specific caring tips.
Make detailed notes of what the doctor says so you can easily follow it, or another person can if they are stepping in as a carer.
Throughout the entire recovery process, your goal should be to alleviate as much stress from the patient as possible. Taking responsibility for how often they need to be bandaged or being alert to symptoms of infections are crucial steps to helping them.
Make the house recovery-ready
It is often ideal to have a central location they rest where they can easily get to and from (and hopefully it is close to a bathroom)!
If they are based in the lounge room, then make sure their most-used items are near them. Whether it be a phone charger, tissues, water, or favourite book – ensure they aren’t having to be getting up and down to grab things.
For those using crutches, try to get any obstacles out of their road and nothing that will make them slip. Door mats and thin rugs often pose problems for those not so confident on crutches, so having them out of the way is ideal!
Other considerations include seats or rails for them in the shower and how they will get up stairs (if they have any)!
Flowers are always a go-to when someone is sick or injured.
But, let’s think about it, flowers aren’t always the key to recovery.
Instead of adding more fragrance into their room, it is an excellent idea to consider more practical gifts that will help them out, even just a little bit.
- Make meals, or if you’re not the cooking kind of person, there are plenty of pre-packed meals you can organise to be delivered
- What will they do when they are bored? Think of getting them crossword puzzles, all the books they have meant to read, TV series and movies they can binge watch
- Take the kids out of the house for a few hours – we’re sure they would enjoy the silence
- Comfortable clothing that will be suitable after their surgery