Top 5 Tips for Caregivers

Surgery is a major life decision for your loved one, and being a supportive partner, friend, or parent can make all the difference in their journey leading up to and recovery after surgery. One of the best things you can do to support your loved one is to help them prepare and make any arrangements ahead of time – this can help ensure a smooth and seamless experience after surgery.

Below are 5 tips for how to prepare before your loved one goes into surgery:

  1. Offer help with chores and childcare – check in with the person undergoing surgery to determine what duties or tasks they may need help with while they recover so they can go into surgery with peace of mind. This can include pre-preparing meals, tidying up the house/apartment, or taking their kids to and from school. Check if they have pets or other people in their household that they are caretakers for.
  1. Make sure they have a ride home from surgery – patients undergoing more intensive procedures will likely be under anesthesia during their operation. They will not be able to operate a vehicle or get into public transportation after surgery, so work with them to make sure they will have a ride home after surgery.
  1. Shop for any helpful aftercare materials – when your loved one is out of surgery, you’ll want to have some materials on hand to help keep them comfortable. Each patient and surgery are, of course, unique and may have specific requirements, but some suggestions for supplies to have on hand are (always check with your surgeon before making these purchases):
  • Books, magazines, movies
  • Aquaphor, Vaseline
  • Ice packs/Warm Compresses
  • Gauze
  • Extra underwear
  • Sweatpants and other loose clothes (full zip hoodies are easy)
  • Lap desk
  • Thick pillow or medical donut for comfort while sitting or traveling
  • Hand mirror that allows them to see what they are doing when changing dressings
  1. If needed, help them set up their home for successful recovery – surgery can be taxing on the body. If your loved one lives in tight quarters or has multiple floors in their home, consider helping them rearrange furniture to make the space easier to navigate after surgery and move their sleeping arrangements to the first floor.
  1. Be present during their recovery – this is perhaps the most important step that a caregiver can take after their loved one goes into surgery. Surgery can come with a lot of emotions, and having a solid support system can help significantly to reduce anxiety or stress and keep the patient positive. The patient may need to stay in a hospital for a few days following their procedure, which can be a wonderful opportunity to show you care by checking in on them and bringing them anything they need (maybe even their favorite food to cheer them up!), or even just to hold their hand – small gestures can be so very meaningful.

No two surgeries are the same, and healing can take time. The role caregivers play in helping their loved ones fully recover is vital. We wish you and your loved one a successful surgery and healing journey!

For additional information and support, please check out our Patient Resources page. 

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