Elderly Recovery After Surgery: Surgery Recovery Tips for Seniors

While aging is a natural process that comes with both advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to be aware how this can effect our bodies. With 60% of Americans aged 65 or older having at least two chronic health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chances are you’ve probably had your share of surgeries. Whether it’s a scheduled procedure or emergency surgery, elderly recovery after surgery can be more difficult than that of younger people.

Shot of an anonymous nurse checking in on their elderly patient in hospital

As we age, we lose muscle mass and bone density, our immune system weakens, and we’re more likely to have chronic health conditions that can complicate surgery and the recovery process.

Here are a few tips for elderly people looking to recover from surgery:

Get Plenty of Rest

This may seem like a no-brainer, but getting plenty of rest after the surgery is important. “Sleep is when our bodies heal,” says Michael A. Ferraro, MD, a geriatrician, and palliative care physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. “When we’re asleep, our cells repair themselves.”

Eat a Healthy Diet

While not all surgeries have dietary restrictions post-operation, eating a healthy diet is always important to help your body heal. Having meals rich in protein, fruits, and vegetables will give you the nutrients you need to recover.

In addition, get hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially water. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages should be avoided, as they can interfere with the healing process.

Exercise and Move Around

You might not feel like it, but it’s important to get moving after surgery. Unless noted by your care provider as a bad idea, walking is a great way to move your body without putting too much strain on it. Start with short walks around the house or block, and gradually increase the distance as you feel up to it.

If you had surgery on your legs or feet, physical therapy could help you regain strength and mobility. PT exercises will also help reduce swelling and improve your range of motion.

Take Your Medications as Prescribed

After surgery, you’ll likely be prescribed pain medication, antibiotics, and/or other medications. It’s important to take these as prescribed and not to skip any doses.

If you have questions about your medications, ask your doctor or pharmacist. They can help you understand the drug and how to take it properly.

Follow Up With Your Surgeon

Most people will have a follow-up appointment with their surgeon within a few weeks of surgery. This is an excellent time to ask any questions about your recovery and get guidance on when you can return to your normal activities.

Keep all your follow-up appointments, as they are essential to your recovery process.

Be Patient

Recovery from surgery can take time, so patience is important. “It’s not uncommon for people to feel pretty good a week or two after surgery and then have a setback,” says Dr. Ferraro. The healing process can be unpredictable, so listening to your body and taking things as they come is essential.

If you have any concerns about your recovery, don’t hesitate to contact your surgeon or primary care doctor. They can help you manage any pain or other symptoms you may be experiencing.

Ask for Help When You Need It

Elderly recovery after surgery can be challenging, so don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Family and friends can pitch in by helping with meals, transportation, and household tasks.

Professional caregiving services can also help with things like bathing, dressing, and grooming. These services can be beneficial if you live alone or don’t have a lot of support from family and friends.

Elderly Recovery After Surgery: How Can Thoughtful Care Help You

While surgery recovery can be challenging, the good news is that you don’t have to go through it alone. The elderly care experts at Thoughtful Care can provide the support and assistance you need to recover in Kansas City.

Our elderly care services are tailored to meet your unique needs and can be customized to fit your schedule. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.