Thanks to advances in technology, total hip replacement has become a widespread procedure for many older adults to address severe hip joint pain caused by arthritis and injuries. The procedure for most people is low risk and offers more independence and a greater quality of life after recovery. To ensure success, it is important to reduce risk factors that may lead a person to be readmitted to the hospital after the procedure. Older senior adults in particular are at a greater risk for complications that can result in readmission. The most common of these are surgical site infections and cardiovascular events. Certain factors can increase the risk that the senior will return to the hospital, including depression, obesity, malnourishment, (which can occur in conjunction with obesity), and vitamin D deficiencies. These factors can cause more complications after surgery, including infections, and can reduce the senior’s ability to perform daily physical functions.
Another factor that can affect a successful outcome is waiting too long to have the surgery performed. Many seniors put off hip replacement surgery out of fear. Performing the surgery earlier and not waiting until the condition is critical, however, can improve surgical results and reduce hospital stays. The factors listed above are important for individuals to discuss with their physicians so that appropriate preventive actions can be taken, but there are also actions older individuals can do to boost recovery after total hip replacement.
Before surgery, the individual can begin to increase muscle strength with doctor-approved exercises. Being in better physical condition before the surgery has been shown to result in better outcomes, both long and short-term, after surgery. If the older adult smokes, quitting will help with recovery as will maintaining a healthy diet and weight.
Following surgery, it is critical that the person be committed to the physical therapy activities prescribed by the surgeon and physical therapy team. Activity will increase mobility. On the other hand, it is equally important that the person not engage in activities that have been shown to complicate recovery, such as bathing in tubs, reaching for items, using stairs, dressing, making beds, driving, and many others. It is important for recovery that seniors obtain help with these tasks after surgery until they receive a release from the doctor.
While family and friends may be able to help, it is possible that the older individual will need help during certain periods of the day when others are not available, or that they do not have these community resources to lean on. In these cases, hiring a professional in-home caregiver can provide the senior with the assistance needed to ease recovery and reduce the stress of loved ones who may be concerned about the senior trying to manage alone. For more information on how in-home caregivers can help seniors recovering from total hip replacement, contact your local Comfort Keepers® office today.
Fast Facts: The number of total hip replacements in Canada more than doubled between 1995 and 2006 and continues to rise, partially a reflection of an aging population.
Canadian Institute for Health Information. Hip and Knee Replacements in Canada 2007, Annual Report.
Ottawa: Canadian Institute for Health Information, 2008.
Brown, T.S., Banerjee, S., Russell, R.D., Mont, M.A., and Huo, M.H. (September 17, 2014). What’s new in total hip arthroplasty. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, 96(18), p.1576-1582.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (May 14, 2014). Inpatient surgery.
Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Hip replacement.
Lavernia, C., D’Apuzzo, M., Rossi, M., and Lee, D. (October 2009). Is postoperative function after hip or knee arthroplasty influenced by preoperative functional levels? The Journal of Arthroplasty, 24(7).