Unlike a surgery that is done due to a medical emergency, an elective surgery is something many seniors plan in advance to improve their overall quality of life. These types of surgeries can be necessary for medical reasons, such as living organ donation or cataract surgery. Or, they can be performed for non-medical issues, such as cosmetic surgery.
For seniors, the most common types of elective surgeries involve joint replacements, such as shoulder, hip or knee replacement surgeries. The goal of these surgeries is to restore movement, alleviate pain, and they are often considered necessary after the pain has been consistently interfering with daily life.
Joint replacement involves removing the damaged parts of the joint and replacing them with new, artificial parts. The artificial joint itself is called a prosthesis, and can be made of plastic, metal, ceramic, or a combination of each. Hip replacements, for example, have been performed for over 50 years, and today are one of the most common orthopedic surgeries performed on seniors.
No matter which type of joint replacement surgery you have, the recovery process will be similar in nature, but differ slightly depending on the elective procedure. However, in as little as a year following surgery, most seniors see significant relief in their pain and symptoms, and they are able to get back to an independent, active lifestyle.
When you’ve chosen to have an elective surgery, learning as much as you can about the recovery process is essential to your successful recovery. A few tips to properly recover from joint replacement surgery include:
Make healthy lifestyle changes pre-surgery. The better shape you are in before your elective surgery, the easier it will be to fully recover. Eat a well-balanced, healthy diet and get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. Try to eliminate stress and get a decent amount of sleep each night in the weeks leading up to your surgery.
Take part in a senior rehabilitation program. While in the hospital, a physical therapist will begin therapy usually as soon as the first day after surgery. After being discharged from the hospital, you may be admitted to a skilled nursing facility to begin further rehabilitation until you are strong enough to return home. This rehabilitation will include more physical therapy in which you will learn how to walk with assistive devices and exercises that will strengthen muscles and keep the blood flowing. Before the doctor allows you to go home, you should be able to get in and out of bed by yourself, walk with crutches or a walker, move your joint at bit, and be able to properly manage your pain with medication.
Follow aftercare instructions. When you return home, it’s important that you follow both your doctor’s orders and the instructions from your physical therapist. You should keep doing the recommended exercises your therapist has shown you to continue to strengthen your muscles and improve your mobility. If you experience any pain or issues, don’t hesitate to contact your doctor.