There was a time when a fractured hip signaled “the beginning of the end” for senior citizens. A healthy, ambulatory senior might fall and break a hip, and the resulting hospitalization and lack of mobility would begin a domino effect of related health issues. Even today, hip surgery is a serious thing, and only with care and determination will a full recovery after surgery take place.
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One of the most important things to strive for, upon returning home, is an atmosphere that will lessen the chances of falling again. With that in mind, consider the following tips for creating a safe home environment.
Once you get home, you should stay active, but avoid doing too much, too soon. Your doctor or physiotherapist will instruct you about your limitations. You should definitely have someone to assist you after surgery. If no friend or family member is available, speak to your doctor about the possibility of hiring a home health caregiver to help you through the early days. To create the safest in-home atmosphere, you will want to limit the amount of moving around that you must do. While you may not need a hospital bed, you will need a bed of some kind on the first floor of your home. It should be firm, and low enough to the ground that your feet can touch the floor as you sit on it.
You should also have a portable commode near your bed. You may not think the bathroom is very far, but in the early part of your recovery, just getting from a reclining to a standing position will zap your energy, and a walk down the hall might as well be a mountain hike. While some days may feel worse than others, you should notice a gradual improvement over time. You will also want to have a phone, your glasses, your medication, drinking water, tissues, and other frequently-used items within reach.
Once you’re able to get around a bit more, you may find that common activities involving bending and reaching have become far more challenging than before. In most cases, you would have been advised not to bend or stretch out to reach items. A few inexpensive items can make your life much easier and remove the temptation to over-reach and risk injury. Long-handled kitchen utensils may help with simple meal preparation. Frequently used items on shelves and cupboards should be at waist to shoulder height.
A long-handled shoehorn or a mechanical-reacher can assist you with getting dressed, and a shower sponge with a handle can help with bathing. Even firm chairs, strategically placed, will allow you to steady yourself or to sit down as needed, even for activities you’d normally stand to perform. A tall, firm, straight-backed chair with armrests is best initially, and is easier to sit down and get up from. Avoid standing on tiptoes to get anything. Always ask yourself whether retrieving the item is worth re-injuring yourself. If it’s not a matter of life and death, wait for assistance.
One of the most dangerous areas in your home as you recover will be your bathroom, with its hard and slippery surfaces. It may be worthwhile to have a senior home care provider come in to assist you with bathing until you become stronger and more agile. Consider getting grab bars installed as well as bathing in a shower chair temporarily. Do not try to hold on to towel bars to steady yourself, as they are not intended to support a person’s weight, and if you depend on them they may let you down — literally. As for the remainder of the house, make sure that electrical cords are out of the way, and add some night-lights for the darker corners of your home. Put away any loose throw rugs, for now, and have someone attend to any uneven flooring that could cause a nasty tumble.
Remove loose wires or cords from areas you walk through to get from one room to another. Remove loose throw rugs.
Be sure to have good lighting. You can place nightlights in hallways and rooms that tend to be dark.
Don’t be in a hurry to do without your walker or cane. If you follow your doctor’s instructions, then with reasonable care and some strong will on your part, you will soon be able to return to your normal routine.
If you find that you need help after your surgery, please contact us. Our mission is to help you have a happy and independent life. If we can provide additional safety tips, address concerns that you may have for your loved ones, or provide care and assistance for you during your recovery, please give us a call at (905) 234-0272.