Over 42% of the senior population in India undergo some or the other type of surgery. Right from cataract surgery to heart operations, there are a range of issues your parents might have to go under the knife for, once they enter the senior age group.
Surgery can be a challenging thing not only for the one undergoing it but also for you as a caregiver. It is an emotionally and physically taxing job. Your parent might be in pain and might need assistance in moving or doing even simple tasks. They might need lots of emotional support because of the trauma they have been through.
Here are some useful tips for you to keep in mind so that taking care of your parents after surgery becomes easier:
1. Have lots of patience
When your parent comes home after surgery, it is the time they need your help the most. They might be in pain, under sedatives, or feeling tired. They may even feel frustrated at having to depend on every little thing on others and upset at not being able to do what they want. You can help with basic things like combing their hair or helping them use the bathroom. You could also prepare and assemble meals. They will be touchy at this time, so you should have a lot of patience while dealing with them.
2. Follow the doctor’s instructions
When the patient is discharged from the hospital, your doctor will issue you with a set of medications and instructions for care. Follow the orders closely to ensure that your parent recovers quickly. You have to monitor their prescriptions and keep the medicines stocked. You also have to watch out for any kind of inflammation or pus-formation in the wound. You can even help in dressing the wound. If you notice anything unusual, consult the doctor immediately.
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3. Watch their diet
When your parent undergoes surgery, the doctor suggests a diet plan for them either till the time the wounds heal or for their lifetime. Usually, they are put on a light diet until the stitches heal. You have to keep an eye on their diet and give them food according to the doctor’s instructions. Some older adults may develop dysphagia too, after surgery. In such cases, you must make sure they get the required nutrition. Even after they recover, you have to keep up with whatever the doctor or dietician has suggested helping them keep healthy.
Also Read: 5 Simple Recipes for Elderly with Dysphagia
4. Give gradual independence
As the days progress, keep checking on their improvements and encourage them to do simple tasks on their own if they are up to it. This gives them a sense of achievement and regains their confidence in their own capabilities. However, you have to be very careful while doing this in case they overreach themselves and damage their fragile health further. Creating a balance between offering support and giving independence is key.
5. Attend follow-ups on time
Accompany your parent to the doctor while follow-up. It helps if someone not in post-op trauma is present to take notes and remember instructions. You can also note down the questions that you want to ask. Asking the doctor questions gives you a clearer picture of your parent’s health condition. The more knowledge you gain, the more help you can give.
6. Watch for complications
Your parent can go through various complications after surgery, including prolonged pain or loss of sleep. These are very common after surgery but can stress them out. Keep an eye for such complications and take the help of your doctor to tackle these issues. There are some other complications that may be dangerous or even fatal to your parent. Seek medical assistance as soon as you notice these complications.
7. Help with exercises
In some cases, the doctor suggests exercises or physiotherapy for your parent to regain mobility after surgery. These exercises are very important but might be very painful for your parents. Keep them motivated and encourage them to follow up on these exercises even if they are painful. Helping them with the actual movements also is a way of assistance.
8. Keep things in their reach
This is a very basic point, but one that is usually overlooked. However, you must remember that you cannot be beside your parent at all times. Keep some water and a few snacks always near their bedside so that they can access it even when no one is nearby. It would also help to install a bell or establish a system of summoning help (switching lights on and off, banging on the side of the bed) when they need it as it may not always be possible for them to call out loud.
9. Appoint a professional
If you feel you are incapable of providing proper support or if caregiving is becoming very stressful for you, you can consider appointing a specialized nurse or a caregiver to help you out with these activities. Appointing a caregiver is not a sign of your weakness. Rather, it is a way for you to de-stress as caring for a parent post-surgery can be very stressful and taxing.
Also Read: How to Appoint a Caregiver for your Parents?
Taking care of yourself while taking care of your parent is most essential. Otherwise, you will experience burnout. Post-op care of a parent is difficult. But with these tips, both your lives should become easier and your parent will be on the road to recovery very soon.
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