Caregivers Guide for the Hip

When your friend or loved one has undergone a hip replacement, as a caregiver, you will play an important role in his/her recovery.  There are several guidelines you need to be aware of to ensure the safety, comfort, and recovery of the patient.

Home safety

Some of the changes you would need to make around the house include:

  • Pick up rugs lying around and secure loose carpets.
  • Place all items that are regularly used well within reach.
  • Ensure that there is good lighting throughout the house and avoid floor hazards such as small objects lying around, pets, cords and uneven surfaces.
  • Do not allow the patient to lift heavy weights for about 3 months after the surgery.
  • Rearrange furniture to provide more walking space to accommodate a crutches or walker.
  • Un-tuck bedding to make it easier for the patient to move in and out of bed.

Body changes

Some factors to keep in mind about the patient’s changes during recovery include:

  • The patient may have a poor appetite, so ensure that they take in more fluids until their desire for solid food increases.
  • The patient may have difficulties in sleeping at night.  Frequent napping during the day is OK during the first 6 weeks.  Returning to a more regular sleep pattern is worth pursuing after the first 6 weeks.
  • Provide the patient with laxatives or stool softeners to prevent and/or treat constipation, which is a common side effect of narcotic pain medications.
  • You may be advised to give your patient blood thinners to avoid blood clots in the leg.

Incision care

Some of the instructions that you will be given about incision care include:

  • Keep the surgical dressing in place and dry. The dressing is water resistant and it is safe to shower right away. If you notice the dressing is saturated, peeling, or otherwise not working it may come off and the wound left open to air. OK to cover with a gauze to pad the incision if preferred.
  • Inform Dr. Fischer’s Team if there is drainage, increasing redness, or odor around the incision.
  • Inform Dr. Fischer’s Team if the patient’s temperature rises above 100.5°F.

Controlling pain and discomfort

  • Pain medications should be given about 30 minutes before physical therapy.
  • You can encourage the patient to gradually reduce pain medications.
  • Use ice for about 20 minutes every hour to control pain as needed
  • Elevate the leg while at rest, at or above the level of the heart.