Returning Home After Surgery: What Caregivers Should Know
When patients are hospitalized after an illness or surgery, they’re often discharged to the Witherell for “step-down” care to continue their recovery. Once patients are well enough to return home, our team creates a discharge plan to ensure that they are well cared for after the Witherell. This may include a referral for home care, or care may be delivered by a loved one. Either way, keeping newly discharged patients safe at home is critical to prevent re-hospitalization.
To help, our experts are always here to offer caregivers advice. We’re also happy to share these tips on what caregivers should know about providing home care:
- Understand the New Limitations
“Many people don’t grasp how an illness or surgery may impact their ability to walk, move, or perceive depth in the way they did previously,” notes John Mastronardi, Executive Director of The Witherell. “So, it’s important for patients and caregivers to consult with physicians to understand what to expect. Then, they should make sure to have the right equipment, such as a wheelchair, walker, or cane to handle any mobility impairment.”
- Do a Safety Check
Falls are the most frequent reason for re-hospitalization among older adults. Caregivers can do the following to help prevent falls:
- Set up a temporary ground floor bedroom so patients can avoid stairs while they recover.
- Remove any loose rugs, electrical cords, or clutter that can be tripping hazards.
- Install a shower bench or grab bars in bathrooms.
- Place night lights in bedrooms and hallways.
- Make Plans
Be a backup for your loved one in understanding their care plan, and help them manage medications and appointments for physical therapy and follow-up doctor visits. Also, it’s a good idea to prepare and freeze ahead of time easy-to-reheat meals to ease the transition back home.
Most important, don’t be afraid to ask for help. “That’s important, especially when a patient may need a higher level of care,” says Mastronardi. “You’ll know if your loved one is in pain, or is experiencing any signs of decline—a loss of cognitive function, refusal to eat, confusion, or any other changes that are worrisome. So, it’s best to check in with their physician right away.”
Caregivers can also reach out to the team at The Nathaniel Witherell to discuss when it might be time to seek skilled nursing care. For information, call George Cossifos at (203) 618-4232.