Caregivers play an essential role in the lives of people having joint
replacement surgery. As a caregiver, you can facilitate conversations
with the doctor, help make decisions, and lend a hand during the
recuperation period. Because caring for someone who has had joint
replacement surgery can be taxing on you, it’s important that you
don’t forget to take care of yourself during this time, too.
Building a partnership with the doctor is crucial. It's important
that you ask questions, understand your loved one's options, and make
sure that you are comfortable with the recovery and rehabilitation
plan. Here are some steps that may help establish good communication:
Prepare questions ahead of time
Make a list of your most important concerns and problems.
Issues you might want to discuss with the physician include changes
in symptoms, medications, or the general health of the person you're
caring for. You might also want to discuss your own comfort in your
caregiving situation and the specific help you need to provide care.
For thought starters, try here:
Enlist the help of a nurse
Nurses are patient advocates, which means they’ll look out
for you and your loved one. Your nurse may help answer questions
about various tests and examinations, surgical procedures, recovery,
Make sure appointments meet your loved one's needs
When you schedule appointments, be sure you clearly convey
the reasons for the visit so that enough time is allowed. Schedule
the appointment for a time when your loved one can be as relaxed as
possible. If you or your loved one thinks of questions after the
doctor leaves the room, be sure to stop and tell someone in the
office. The doctor or one of the staff members can call you back
with the answers.
Before the appointment, check to see if the doctor is on
schedule. Remind the receptionist of any special needs you have when
you arrive at the office.
Knowing what to expect during your loved one's recovery and being
prepared for it can help make the process a smooth one. Make sure to:
Fill your loved one's prescriptions
This includes regular medications as well as pain medications.
You also might want to have over-the-counter pain relievers on hand.
Consult the doctor to find out which ones you should buy.
Get any special equipment the doctor recommends
Your loved one may need a special toilet seat, a bathtub
bench, or a cane.
Prepare the house for recovery
Put regularly used items in easy-to-reach places and make sure
there's nothing that would cause your loved one to slip or fall.
Read the list of tips specific to the joint being replaced in
"Making Your Home Recovery Ready" within each joint
Find out how long you’ll need to provide care
The doctor can estimate how long it will take your loved one
Keep the wound clean
You may be required to help change the bandage on the
Being able to communicate effectively is one of your most important
jobs as a caregiver. When you communicate in ways that are clear and
assertive, you are more likely to be heard and get the help and
support you need. Here are some basic guidelines for good communication:
- Express your feelings without blaming others or causing them
to become defensive; use I rather than you
- Respect the
rights and feelings of others
- Be clear and specific; don't
assume the person will guess what you need
- Be a good
Caregivers should expect to provide many kinds of help, from grocery
shopping to helping with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and
eating. When caring for a loved one after joint replacement surgery,
it's also important for you to remember to take care of your own
health. It is not selfish to focus on your own needs and desires when
you are a caregiver—it’s an important part of the job. You are
responsible for your care first. Remember to:
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get enough sleep
time for regular exercise
- Stay in touch with friends and
other family members
- Maintain outside interests
- Recognize when you need help and ask for it