Proper preparation is key to minimizing post-operation complications for seniors. Having surgery is a big deal, especially for our older loved ones, who may already be managing mobility or cognition issues. Planning ahead can help eliminate stress and lay the groundwork for a smooth and successful recovery. Join our team of post-operative in-home caregivers as we cover three key tips to help seniors prepare for successful surgery and recovery.

Doctor talking with Senior Woman

Tip 1 – Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions!

We recommend scheduling one to two appointments with the surgeon or surgical team prior to the operation. Use this time to ask questions and learn as much as possible about the procedure and recovery. Your surgeon can help with key information like how long the surgery will take and what the recovery period will look like. They will also provide pre-surgery instructions that may include information on diet, exercise, and medication requirements. When it comes to communicating with your care team, there are no bad questions!

Check out Ten Questions to Ask Before Having an Operation from The American College of Surgeons to prepare for your pre-surgery appointments!

Caregiver helping senior woman with exercise activities

Tip 2 – Focus on Healthy Habits Leading Up to the Procedure

There are a few day-to-day actions you or your loved one can take to better prepare your body for surgery. According to Today’s Dietitian, “Surgery poses a catabolic stress on the body, which triggers inflammation and depletes nutrients; this, in turn, can impair the immune response and increase the risk of postoperative complications, especially infections. ‘Surgery is like a sport,’ says Dr. Evans of the Ohio State University, ‘and we have to be the trainers. If you’re not well trained, if you’re not ready for surgery, you’re not going to do well.’” Eating healthy, nutrient dense foods and taking in plenty of fluids in the days leading up to the procedure can give your body the energy and strength it needs to successfully undergo surgery.

Adding in time for exercise and relaxation activities, along with getting enough rest, can also help prepare your body to manage the stress of surgery and recovery.

Check out Surgical Prehabilitation: Steps to Take Before Surgery from Permanente Medical Group to learn more about getting your mind and body ready for surgery!

Senior woman resting in bed while talking with caregiver

Tip 3 – Set Up a Recovery Area

The more you prepare for a surgery, the faster you will recover, but this includes more than physical preparation. Make recovery easier by getting your or your loved one’s home ready for post-surgery rest and recuperation. Create a space on the first floor of the home that includes a bed, a close bathroom or portable commode, stock up on prepared foods, and put much-needed supplies within arm’s reach.

The team at Robert Jacobson Surgical Pharmacy also explains that “Your home should be a cleanly, comfortable place to facilitate your recovery. Resting in a clean space also helps you prevent unwanted bacteria near the healing incision. To create a refreshing space, try to deep clean the house just before the surgery.” A little home preparation before the procedure can make recovery a more pleasant and successful experience.

Check out Getting Your Home Ready – After the Hospital from MedlinePlus and the National Library of Medicine to learn how you can create the best recovery environment.

Caregiver helping senior using walking cane

Tip 4 – Get Professional Support During Recovery

According to Dr. Brunilda Nazario, Lead Medical Director of WebMD, “Surgery can be a big deal. Sometimes it can sap your energy for days or weeks afterward. You may need some help from your family or a health care professional.” (Brunilda Nazario, MD) Because low energy and mobility are common in surgery recovery, it’s important to have help with daily activities and self-care. In order to focus on healing properly, it’s good to have some help with medication, diet and nutrition, daily tasks, and healthcare coordination. Having an in-home caregiver to provide support when family members and friends are unable to assist can really improve quality of life.

Check out In-Home Care is a Key Factor in Successful Recovery from Surgery from our own care team to learn more about how non-medical in-home care can improve your recovery.

If you’re planning an upcoming procedure or working through recovery and need some extra help, reach out to your local ameriCARE to connect with compassionate, trained, reliable caregivers in your area!