If your loved one is preparing for knee replacement surgery you have a lot on your mind! Undoubtedly, you’ve given some thought to the recovery period. Proper recovery after a knee replacement is key to the success of the procedure. Returning to a home that is prepared and equipped for optimal care should be a priority.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, in a recent survey of people who had undergone joint surgery, “more than 41% said they were well prepared for their at-home recovery needs – and were grateful for it! Those who weren’t prepared reported feelings of frustration and depression”.
How do I prepare my loved one’s home prior to a knee replacement?
If your parent or loved one is scheduled for a knee replacement, here’s a helpful “to-do” list to prepare their home for the best possible recovery:
Clutter be gone!
Look around the house for obvious areas of concern. Crowded living spaces and piles of clutter can be a big problem. Your loved one will eventually be using a walker after the surgery. It’s best to plan for plenty of space to help navigate through rooms and hallways.
- Place wires and electrical cords out of harms way
- Put away rugs as they become fall risks
- Move or even “remove” furniture
- Relocate small tables
- Put away extra décor or knickknacks
Grab some gear!
Having purchased a few items ahead of time can eliminate stress and prevent several late night trips to the store. Here’s a few great things to have on hand:
- Reachers and grabbers to help reach items on high shelves
- Walker-basket to attach to a walker for storage on the go
- Loose, comfy clothing that’s easy to get on and off
- Ice packs or bags of frozen peas
- Chair on wheels, such as an office chair, to help roll around the kitchen
- Stool softeners (pain meds have some wicked side effects!)
- Scar gel
- Lip Balm
- Nonskid socks
- Night lights
- Wedge pillow
- Shower seat
- Hand-held shower head
- Elevated toilet seat with handles
- Grab bars for the bathroom or hallways
Establish a “Mission Control Center”.
Most people prefer the comfort of a recliner during the daytime. Mobility is a challenge for several weeks and preparing a “mission control center” in the living room is a smart decision. It’s best to choose a chair that has arms they can push off of while trying to stand. Chairs that rock or are too soft create an unstable, “mushy” environment that becomes a fall risk.
If possible, place a table near the chair to hold the following necessities:
- Phone charger
- Television remote
The bathroom can prove to be your greatest challenge. Consider the following changes:
- Remove rugs to prevent falls
- Purchase a shower chair
- Install a hand-held shower
- Attach non-slip, textured decals to shower floor
- Purchase an elevated toilet seat with handles
- Mount temporary hooks on walls or doors to hang items in convenient locations
- If you have a shower door, consider removing it and installing a temporary plastic curtain
Borrow a bedroom.
Climbing stairs is difficult after knee surgery. If their bedroom is upstairs you might consider setting up camp on the main floor. Sleeping in a guest room or creating a space for a temporary bed near the main living area is a smart decision.
Stock the fridge!
Your loved one will be dependent on you or other caregivers to provide meals. Stock the pantry, fridge and freezer before they return home. If there’s time to prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them that’s always a win!
It takes a village.
Every recovery is different, but plan on several weeks of round-the-clock care after the surgery. They need help with meals, laundry, housework, bathing and everything in between. This may require you to take time off work and coordinate schedules with other family members.
If your list of helpers is small, consider reaching out to local churches. Some offer a “homebound ministry” that can come and assist throughout the day. And if all else fails, you can hire someone from a home health agency to stay with your loved one on a full or part time basis.
Preparing is Caring
A total knee replacement is considered a major operation. The road to recovery is a long, slow process, but a critical part of the overall success. You can never prepare too much!
Taking the time to invest in your loved one’s home can have a big payoff. Take the time, make the changes, purchase what you need and let the healing begin!
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