A surgery is undoubtedly a complicated procedure for the patient as well as the family members and primary caregivers. Generally, we tend to pay more attention to the preparations leading to the surgery and often overlook the need for planning for post-surgical recovery at home. If plans are made in advance, caregivers can avoid the challenges that crop up on bringing the patient home.
It must be remembered that post-surgical rehabilitation is a steady process that demands constant assistance and monitoring on part of the Caregivers. Especially for seniors, the recovery process can be further delayed by certain age-related health issues and already existing medical conditions like Arthritis, Diabetes and high blood pressure among others.
Here's a quick list of 10 Important Actions to Plan For when bringing a loved one home after a surgery.
The foremost step for caregiving is to carefully prepare a list of all the things that need to be done and also the schedule to be strictly followed after the patient gets home from the hospital. Talk with your doctor and note down all the important advice regarding medication, diet, sleep timings and other assistive procedures; all of which are important for better recovery. Then prepare a daily schedule accordingly, keeping in mind the habits and needs of your patient along with the professional advice.
This is a step that should be planned as per the nature of the surgery.
Often, certain assistive aids are required for performing normal daily activities post a critical surgery.
Medication is perhaps the most important part of post-surgical recovery and should be managed with extra care. Most often, the senior patients face difficulties in remembering to have their medicines on time. Therefore, caregivers must pay extra attention to help them remember to take the prescribed medicines. Preparing a medicine chart, buying a weekly pill planner and table cutter, setting reminders on their own phones are some steps that prove helpful in proper medication management on coming home after a surgery.
Proper diet is a significant part of post-surgical recovery. Hence:
A major necessity, that is sometimes not prioritized by caregivers, is to monitor the patient’s blood pressure, pulse rate, sleep pattern and appetite to look out for any abnormality which might be of concern and demands immediate medical attention. For proper and easy monitoring of blood pressure at home, automatic blood pressure monitor is a must-have. Non-Contact Thermometers help in keeping a check on body temperatures in case of fever without disturbing the patient.
A pulse oximeter is a tool to monitor oxygen saturation level and pulse rate to prevent intensive post-operative trauma in patients who have undergone a critical surgical procedure with general anaesthesia.
Caregivers must make sure that they are accessible to the patient at all times. If the patient is facing certain speech difficulty and is unable to alert in time for any need, an alternative way of reaching the caregiver such as alarm systems, call bells, etc. should be put in place.
Taking full-time care of a loved one post-surgery requires a complete change in your itinerary as a caregiver. The first thing to be done is pre-arranging your calendar beforehand marking the dates for doctor visits, post-surgical medical examinations or other assistive procedures like physiotherapy. Always make sure to accompany the patient during visits to the doctor or clinic.
It is advised that you keep the contact details of the hospital, ambulance, doctor, clinic and physiotherapist at hand. Also, keep in regular touch with other family members and relatives to get help anytime the patient needs it.
Caring for a parent or a grandparent can be a critical and cumbersome task sometimes which is often not realised by most of us beforehand. So you should always remember that you are not alone and it is best advised to get help if you think you are unable to manage everything properly. Often, certain critical procedures need to be performed on a daily basis which requires precision and professionalism. In that case, getting a nurse or a professional healthcare provider from any reputed organization is the best option. Career needs put certain limitations on full-time caregivers, for which, coordination with other family members like caregiving in alternate days is recommended.
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Above everything, perhaps the assurance which aids most during post-surgical recovery is consistent emotional encouragement from the Caregivers and family members. The constant presence and support of a loved one is an absolute necessity apart from medication or assistive procedures, for a speedier recovery.
The caregivers should also encourage the patients to gradually start performing certain normal daily activities by himself or herself like eating, using the washroom, bathing, dressing and walking. Daily living aids can be helpful in this case.
Caregivers should ensure that the patient is happy. Engaging in heartful conversations, encouraging them with positive thoughts are necessary for their better health. If the doctor recommends, you can spend time outdoors with your loved ones in gardens or parks for refreshing their mind and body.
Hobbies and recreational activities are a big help during rehabilitation to aid in faster healing. A free hand document holder is best for senior patients who enjoy reading newspapers. Light Indian or Western classical music might provide relaxation and mental peace to the patients as per their taste. For seniors with a knack for knitting and sewing, ergonomic crochet hooks, loom sets etc. will allow them to enjoy their hobby with much less exertion.
As caregivers, we often tend to ignore self-care. While caring full time for our loved one is that we should also make time to care for ourselves. Caregiving sometimes can turn out to be an arduous and emotionally taxing process which might unintentionally be reflected in our behaviour towards the patient. It is extremely unfavourable for rehabilitation if the patient finds the caregiver unhappy or frustrated. So alongside caregiving, remember to set aside some time of the day to yourself and nurture your personal relaxing activities. Remember, your smile is the best medicine to help your ward to recover faster.
Caring for a patient who is coming home after a surgery is indeed an important part of the entire rehabilitation process. Therefore, it must be practised with utmost patience and empathy. We hope this checklist will help you plan in advance to provide the best care for your loved one.
By Sayantani Nath
Guest Author and Student of Biology
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And then crept in dementia….
At first, we had no clue. Her naggings increased, she started forgetting things - even the crucial ones like going to the toilet. She accused us of not giving her breakfast having had it moments back. Then came a time when she was not able to recognize my wife and me. It was a difficult time for us as interaction with her became almost impossible.
When it comes to the elderly, it’s the past you are investing in, not the future.
So what makes it all worth while?
So why do we change in how we respond to them? Why can’t we accept that someone we love has a mental disease?
Because we believe it reflects on us? As SRK says in Dear Zindagi, “We go to a doctor when we have a fever, so why do we struggle to come to terms with mental illness?”