Stethoscope and pen lying on a paper chart.

Tips on How to Prepare for Your Upcoming Surgery

By Ellen Mason, J.D., Hotline Attorney 

Anne recently had hip replacement surgery. Because she had two total knee replacements, she thought she was prepared. While she is not a medical doctor, she has some useful tips to help you begin thinking about the recovery period after surgery.  

  1. Your doctor will probably give you some basic exercises to do in the days or weeks before your surgery. If you do them, your recovery will be easier. 
  2. Have some basic planning documents in place. At a minimum, a “Patient Advocate” document should be prepared so someone can help make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated. It might also be a good time to make or update your will. 
  3. Think about the help you’ll need after you get out of the hospital. When Anne had her knee replacement surgeries, she only needed help for her first two days out of the hospital. But with her hip surgery, Anne needed help for three full weeks because she couldn’t bend or twist for several weeks. 
  4. Before you go to the hospital, put things you’ll need (like dish soap, hand soap, lotions, medications, wash cloths, pots, and pans) on countertops or at waist level. 
  5. Pay all the bills that you can before you go to the hospital, so you don’t have to do it soon after surgery. 
  6. Some home-help devices – such as raised toilet seats, canes, shower chairs, walkers, grab sticks – will make recovery easier. These devices are not always covered by Medicare or health insurance. Many hospitals sell these devices, but you can often get a better price by shopping around. Price these items at drug stores, department stores, dollar stores, and online to get the best deals. For example, Anne found the same raised toilet seat priced from $25-$90. If you know you’ll only need the items for a few weeks, many senior centers have “loan closets” that will loan you these items for free or for a very nominal cost. Reserve these items as soon as you schedule your surgery. 

 Be prepared for your recovery to be slower than you’d like! Take it at your own pace. The right preparation can make a difference in your recovery speed and experience.