8 Tips for Helping a Loved One After Surgery


Recovery from surgery can be a difficult process — physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Care and support from a loved one can help reduce the risk of postsurgical complications, accelerate recovery, reduce the risk of hospital readmission, and improve quality of life. Below are eight tips for helping a loved one following surgery.

  1. Educate yourself
    Talk to your loved one’s medical team about the surgery, the healing process, and how you can help. Obtain detailed information about wound care, acceptable postsurgical activities, rest recommendations, and mental health care.
  2. Provide emotional support
    Let your loved one know that they are not alone. If they become frustrated during the healing process, provide emotional support and encouragement. Remind your loved one that they are valued and can always reach out to you.
  3. Organize medications
    Healing from surgery often involves postsurgical medications. Help your loved one organize and manage their medications by preparing a weekly pill box, keeping all medication in one place, using a medication tracker, and staying on top of refills.
  4. Assist with transportation
    Postsurgical doctor appointments will most likely be needed. Driving may be off limits for a period of time. Offer to help with transportation not only to doctor appointments but also to run general errands.
  5. Watch for postsurgical complications
    Any type of surgery involves the risk of complications. Be vigilant and watch for any developing complications. Postsurgical complications may include symptoms such as fever, worsening pain, racing heart rate, nausea, or vomiting.
  6. Prepare the home
    Postsurgical falls are a major concern that can cause serious injuries. Be sure that clutter is removed from the home and walkway, place night lights in hallways, prepare sleeping quarters close to a bathroom, and ensure stairs can be avoided.
  7. Provide nourishment
    Your loved one may not be able to prepare food for a time following surgery. Prepare meals for them, ensure the pantry is stocked with healthy snacks, ask what they would like from the grocery store, and place water in a handy location.
  8. Take care of yourself
    Caregiving, even for a short time, can be challenging. It’s important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally to ensure that you can also take care of your loved one. Ask for help when needed, enlist others to help with meals, and take time for yourself. Seek emotional support as needed from family, friends, counselors, or other health care professionals.

Additional source: Verywell Health

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