Of the millions of surgeries that take place each year, about 19 percent of them are performed on those aged 65 to 74, and about 14 percent of them are performed on those over the age of 75.
Surgery comes with risks for people of every age, but seniors, in particular, often experience extra difficulties when trying to recover. Whether they’re having a hip replacement or an appendectomy, seniors need to take extra care when going under the knife to ensure a successful surgery recovery.
There are a lot of things that seniors can do both before and after their surgery to speed up the recovery process and make it as easy as possible.
Factors that Influence Recovery Time
First, it’s important to understand some of the factors that have the greatest influence on the duration of a patient’s recovery. Some of the most well-known factors include:
- The technique the surgeon uses
- Whether or not there are complications
- The patient’s motivation to adhere to the rehabilitation program laid out by the surgeon
- How physically fit the patient was prior to their surgery
Of course, some of these factors (such as surgical technique) are outside of the patient’s control. But, there are plenty of others that seniors can control.
One of the most important things for seniors to remember is that successful surgery recovery begins before they arrive at the hospital. Listed below are some pre-surgery guidelines to keep in mind to make sure they’re in optimal health include.
Research the Surgery and the Recovery Process
The more educated a patient is, the less stressed they’ll be. Studies show that stress hinders your body’s ability to recover.
The research process should start with the surgeon. It’s best for seniors to get recommendations from their general practitioner, or from a family or friend who’s had a similar procedure, to ensure they’re getting the best treatment possible.
Get Clear on Postoperative Restrictions
It’s also important for seniors (and their caregivers) to fully understand everything they can and cannot do after their surgery. This will help them avoid accidentally setting back their recovery because they didn’t know something was off limits.
Caregivers may need to be extra vigilant at enforcing these rules and making sure seniors don’t try to take on too much, too soon.
Exercise and Eat Cleaner
Depending on the type of surgery they’re having and the amount of time they have to prepare for it, seniors should dial in their physical activity and nutrition to the best of their abilities.
Being as healthy as possible before going under the knife, and focusing on nutrition and exercise beforehand can actually help patients save money.
Give up Harmful Habits
Smoking, drug use, and excessive alcohol consumption are all bad habits that can increase a patient’s risk of complication during surgery.
In addition to taking preventative steps prior to the surgery, seniors should also keep these post-surgery guidelines in mind to ensure they heal properly and can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
Take Rehabilitation Seriously
This means doing the exercises the physical therapist prescribes, both at home and at the clinic. Seniors should also be diligent about attending follow-up appointments and taking medications as directed.
Fall-Proof the Home
After any kind of surgery, seniors will often experience dizziness. This can be attributed to the stress of surgery as well as the effects of certain pain medications.
Because of the increased risk of dizziness, seniors also face an increased risk of falls, which can send them right back to the hospital. Some ways to fall-proof the home include:
- Install grab bars next to the bed and as safety precautions in the bathroom
- Secure or get rid of rugs to prevent tripping and slipping
- Replace light bulbs to make potential obstacles more visible
- Lay down rubber bath mats to prevent falls in the shower
There’s no need to be crippled by fear going into surgery. Taking time to do their research, finding a surgeon they trust, and prioritizing their physical health can help take some of the edge off and improve their chances of a successful surgery recovery.