Though it’s important to move after joint replacement surgery, you can expect to experience pain and you’ll have specific restrictions on the extent of your movement. To ensure that you can relax and recover in a safe environment, Andrew B. Richardson, MD, offers these tips for preparing your home before your surgery.
Look around your home and evaluate walkways. Are the floors free of clutter? Do you have enough room to safely get around without bumping into furniture? Can you move throughout your house without tripping on throw rugs, electrical cords, or other items?
Make the changes necessary to ensure your environment is safe and you can walk after your surgery without tripping and falling.
Designate a recovery space, such as a comfortable chair or corner of the couch. If you don’t have a recliner, get a footstool so you can keep your legs raised. You may also find it helpful to have a lap desk and a few extra pillows to put behind your back or under your feet.
Set up this space with the items you need to stay comfortable, making sure that everything is handy.
Think about your day and the items you frequently use, whether you’re in the kitchen, bathroom, sitting in your recovery chair, or when you’re in bed. Then place all of the things you need within reach.
You may want to keep important items like a water bottle, snacks, tissues, books, and a laptop or tablet in multiple locations, making sure they’re available at your chair and next to your bed. Don’t forget to set up a way to charge your electronics at both locations.
Use a backpack, crossbody bag, or fanny pack for carrying your phone and other items with you when you move around. If you’ll use a walker after your surgery, attach a basket or tote to the handle for your items.
Keeping things in easy reaching distance is also important in the kitchen and bathroom. Any food, dishes, or appliances as well as shampoo, soap, towels, and other toiletries should be in a place you can reach without needing to stand on tiptoes, bend down, or kneel.
Most patients can use stairs after a knee replacement or hip replacement. However, we may ask you to limit the number of times you use the stairs. Or you may discover that you’re too tired or it’s too painful to make numerous trips to another floor.
If you have a bathroom on the same floor as your kitchen and living space, consider creating a temporary place to sleep on the same level.
You can’t sit down in the tub to take a bath for a while, but you can stand in the shower or use a shower chair or bench that allows you to sit under the shower.
Be sure you have a non-slip mat or rubber decals to prevent falls in the tub. A handheld shower head and a long-handled sponge also can make your daily shower easier.
Consider getting a raised toilet seat so you don’t over-flex your knees or hips. For further safety, consider installing grab bars in your shower and next to your toilet.
It’s important to have a good supply of easy-to-prepare foods and essentials on hand. Stock up on canned and frozen foods, ready-made meals, dish soap, toilet paper, and sports drinks.
Technically, this isn’t directly related to preparing your home, but asking family and friends to help during your recovery is another important thing to do before your surgery. You can’t drive for a while, so you’ll need someone to take you to appointments and run errands.
You may need to arrange for people to take care of children or pets. It’s also nice to make plans to have someone who can simply spend time with you.
For more advice on preparing your home before surgery or on recovery after joint replacement, call Andrew B. Richardson, MD, or schedule an appointment online.