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How to Choose the Best Post-Surgery Caregiver

Published September 12, 2017
| Written By SpineNation Editorial Staff  

You just had surgery. You get discharged and now back home you go. You set up your recovery zone in your bedroom having your favorite snacks and the television remote handy. If you can't reach it, you don't need it. Then you have to either use the bathroom or finally get up to have some dinner. You can't move without hurting. You realize you may need a little help after all.

In the ride of life, someone reads the directions while you steer - making post-operation care, no different than driving.

You may need a caretaker to clean incisions, help you around the house, to dress or help manage your medications. You may require specific medical accessories, such as a bath seat or walking cane, protecting you from falling down and preventing further injury.

Luckily, there is no I in team. There is also no I in surgery —meaning the entire process is not something you need to ride out alone. You may be the driver —steering, but you get to pick your co-pilot.

Caregivers play a crucial role in your recovery.

 So How Do I Find the Best One for Me?

First things first.

You need to ask yourself: 'Do I have someone in my friends and family circle who can stay with me while I recover?'

If you answered no, that's okay. There are several services for at home care.

“Health professionals frequently assume there is more support at home than there is,” Heather McKenzie, senior director of clinical education and quality initiatives for the Visiting Nurse Associations of America said.

“It’s important to make clear that there may not be full-time support. The hospital will have to authorize skilled nursing care for your insurer to pay; discharge planners may consider someone living alone to be more qualified for services than someone living with a spouse.”

Before Surgery, I Need to Speak with My Physician and Ask:

  • 'How long will my recovery be?'
  • 'What will I be able to do?'
  • 'What will I not be able to do?'
  • 'What kind of supplies and equipment will I need?'
  • 'When can I go back to work?'
  • 'When is it okay to start moving and exercising again?'
  • 'Is there anything else that I need to know?'

From there, you may want to contact your insurance company inquiring about your policy’s home care benefits. This includes Medicare and Medicaid. Your insurer should be able to provide a general sense of what services you are eligible for. Be specific. You may want to review your policy's long-term care, if applicable; it should cover temporary home assistance.

Let's say you live with a significant other or are close with a family member or friend. They may offer to help you during your recovery or even if they don't, do not be afraid to ask. Don't be afraid to say yes.

I Want Someone Who is...

Reliable. You need to be able to rely on him or her. They need to be dependable with your full trust and confidence.

Available. Depending on the person's work schedule, you want to make sure they will be available day or night for any needs of yours that may arise. If they do work, you should plan ahead so that if they are unavailable due to a prior working engagement, you have a backup plan in place for someone else to assist.

Close to you. You want to feel comfortable with your caretakerHaving a close friend, family member or significant other is always a great option because chances are you are close enough to that person that if you are hurting, you will ask for help without hesitation. You can't feel bad for needing help. You just had surgery after all. 

Willing. This ties into someone being reliable and available. In order for you to feel comfortable enough to ask for help, the caretaker should want to take a proactive approach and be willing to do whatever is required to have you feel as content as possible.

With the help from your inner circle and your medical team, you got this! Try not to stress the what ifs because that's exactly what they are —what if.

If we all lived our life worrying, we wouldn't be able to enjoy the right now.

Don't get frustrated if you aren't recovering as fast as you thought. Be as grateful as possible and remember that resting is a crucial part of your recovery. 

Updated: February 20, 2020

Information provided within this article is for educational purposes and is not a substitute for medical advice. Those seeking specific medical advice should consult his or her doctor or surgeon. If you need to consult with a specialist, you may be able find a health care provider in our Specialist Finder. SpineNation does not endorse treatments, procedures, products or physicians.

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