Helping Dad after hip replacement
July 29, 2010 11:46 AM   Subscribe

How to help family member after hip replacement?

My father is scheduled to have his right hip replaced in a couple of weeks. He is 61 years old and used to be reasonably fit and active, although he has now gained a lot of weight from inactivity since his hip began bothering him. His only other health problem is a history of a very minor heart attack about 15 years ago, and high cholesterol.

I'd love to hear from people who have either had a hip replacement or helped care for someone who did about how best to help him after he comes home (emotionally, physically, etc.), and also anything you can tell me in general about the recovery process. I have read some FAQs online, but I'm looking for more personal experiences, from either the patient or caregiver point of view.
posted by feathermeat to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I helped my Mom through two hip replacements. The recovery from surgery is apparently nowhere near as painful as the original hip pain. Encourage exercise WITHIN THE DOCTOR SPECIFIED LIMITS; it is very important to not push it, as you can do more damage. Have him use the walker, and the cane, as directed; he'll feel so much better without the pain that he may try and overdo it. Bending down and so forth are off limits so you'll need to help with things like putting socks and shoes on. And expect him to want the other hip done too, if it hurts as well, once he's realized how much better he feels! Good luck!
posted by The otter lady at 12:00 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

Bending down and so forth are off limits so you'll need to help with things like putting socks and shoes on

Buy your dad a pair of slip-on loafers and one of those reach extender things (this is just a sample, I don't have knowledge about the best brands).

When I broke my arm, I much preferred wearing slip-on shoes than asking someone to please tie my sneakers. Every. Single. Time. And I am a person who normally wears tie-up sneakers 95% of the time.
posted by CathyG at 12:30 PM on July 29, 2010

My husband has 2 artificial hips & my mom's had hip surgery & later, more surgery to get an extended rod put into her leg bone for more stability.

Gotta use the walker, yes. Put tennis balls on the front legs to avoid tripping over rugs: it works.

Pay attention to warning signs about infection: severe pain or oozing and redness at the incision site.

In addition to the grabber linked above, my hubs has a sock helper. I do have to sometimes tie his shoes, but for the most part, he has sandals he can pull on or leaves his sneakers loosely tied or wears slides with rubber grip soles. Both when I lived w/Mom & now with my husband, always making sure the cane is in the car. You never know when they might need it.

If you ask them if they want help and they say, "no, I can do it myself," let them (within reason). Also, during winter months, be careful of icy spots, such as when going out to eat or in the driveway. My dad just got into the habit of dropping my mom off at the door and parking the car after her surgeries.

He'll also need someone to cut his toenails. I'm pretty good at it now, but unless you're a nail tech, it takes a bit of getting used to doing someone else's toenails.

My husband gained weight too, following his surgeries. Now that he's off the cane, except for hikes over uneven ground, he regularly exercises his upper body with a kettlebell or fighting sticks. But assuming the surgery goes well and he has a full recovery after the rehab period, he can go walking or ride a stationary bike if the doctor says it's okay.

As far as emotional, it depends on the person. My husband loved being in the hospital and having nurses waiting on him. My mom hated rehab both times and couldn't wait to get home. It's not that bad after the first few weeks, and if they do the physical therapy on schedule, it goes more smoothly. If he hates the recovery process, see if you can find some good books, magazines, DVD's, crossword puzzles, etc. that he'd like doing. Good luck!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:56 PM on July 29, 2010

he will probably need to avoid bending his hip joint more than 90 degrees (to avoid dislocation), so the toilet may be too low. you can get a toilet booster seat from your local home health care supply, including some with grab bars to make getting up and down much easier.

many of the comfy chairs and sofas in the house may also be too low, so experiment with sitting in them and see how much your hip joints bend. then maybe go buy one taller seat just for your dad.
posted by toodleydoodley at 1:00 PM on July 29, 2010

Toodleydoodley--is that a permanent thing, or just right after surgery?
posted by feathermeat at 2:48 PM on July 29, 2010

My mom had a hip replacement a few years ago.

Here is what happened:

1. I took a week off from work once she was out of the hospital. If she needed it, I did it. This is because my benefits are so much more awesome than my dad's. He had to go back to work a few days after my mom was home.

2. My mom had a physical therapist come by two to three times/week for the first two weeks or so and then once a week for two more weeks. Encourage your dad to do the very gentle exercises they say to do. It will really increase mobility and will really help the recovery process. Granted, I didn't push my mom, but I gently reminded her why the PT was giving them to her.

3. A visiting nurse came by once-twice/week for the week I was taking care of her. Temp, general feelings, general recovery. If you have questions or concerns, don't hesitate to ask.

4. DON'T PUSH. My mom was about ten years younger than your dad. She did what she could when she could. I didn't push the exercise issue. I merely mentioned if she was up for it, she should do it.

5. Make sure he eats. Yup. Eating is important.

6. Pain medication is important. It actually helps. If he is prescribed some and actively in pain, he should take.

7. Recovery was actually quick for my mom. By the time I left, she was doing nearly everything for herself, per usual.'s just say I did some things for my mom before Baby Zizzle that I didn't expect to do before Baby Zizzle. Be prepared for such things. MeMail me if you want to know.

8. Overall, recovery was quick if I followed and expected the above 7.

I hope your dad heals as well as my mom. It's been about three or four years now since her hip surgery, and she's been much better for it!
posted by zizzle at 7:37 PM on July 29, 2010

As far as getting him to actually use and get used to the new hip:
I've had work on both knees, and a friend had a hip replaced around the same time. We both found short walks, with a big break in the middle to be good. Does dad drink? Parking as far away as was comfortable from a bar, having a slow beer, and walking again back to the car made "exercise" a but more bearable. Replace the bar with a restaurant or movie theater or whatever as it applies.
posted by gally99 at 7:47 PM on July 29, 2010

When my mom had hip surgery I made sure to visit a lot and just happened to realize "Oh hey, it's trash day! Let me take that out for you!" or "Oh man, I miss gardening! I'm gonna go weed for a while!" With the stubborn Irish pride that floods my family, showing up just for visits and kind of finding excuses to help with the stuff that's hard to do while recovering was the way to go. If your dad is accustomed to being fit and active this may also be the case with him. Some people don't like to ASK for help, but they definitely appreciate it when it's given.
posted by troublewithwolves at 9:56 PM on July 29, 2010

I had a hip replaced last year, and it was pretty brutal. Most people don't have the kind of pain I did (I also had dsyplasia). But alone, in a strange country, what I wanted more than anything else was someone to bring me ice packs. Starting on the second day, I had to fetch my own, down the hall, down some stairs, on crutches. So. Take him ice for his hip.

Also, it would have been really nice for someone to help me on and off with my compression stockings, since you can't reach your damn ankles. Make sure he has good slip-on shoes or an extra-long shoe-horn. Get him some vitamin-E oil to massage into the scar after the first couple of weeks. Kept mine more supple, and less annoying (for a few months it feels like it's going to tear inside if you move too fast or twist, and I'm convinced the light massage did wonders.

Passive distractions if the pain is bad. Movies, books on tape, light conversation, gossip, and lots of time for sleep, if he can.

On preview, yes, low toilets suck. So does getting out of bed fast enough to make it to the toilet, and lifting the leg back up into bed afterwards. The low toilet is only a problem temporarily, not permanently, thank god.

If he likes to poke around online, make sure he has a laptop with wireless handy, and a phone nearby.

He should heal pretty quickly, and things like short walks on crutches can be fun, going slowly. He'll be very happy in the long run. Trust me, the weight drops off quickly once the pain (or most of it) is gone.

Emotionally, I had to adjust to having one suddenly flat ass-cheek. Don't ask me how or why they deflated that one, but they did. :) Aside from that, recovery was mostly a walk in the park after the first two days. Good luck to your dad! I'm already in the gym, doing squats.
posted by tejolote at 10:47 PM on July 29, 2010

Oh! The replaced hip has a ghostly cold foot now, on occasion. But only on occasion. My doctors are skeptical, but my friends have confirmed that it's not just me being weird. That foot is sometimes noticeably colder than the other. But only at weird times. Fuzzy socks are good.
posted by tejolote at 10:48 PM on July 29, 2010

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