As we age, our muscles lose strength and bones weaken, making us more susceptible to fractures. Age-related changes in our bodies can lead to additional health problems that may require surgery. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists, 1 in 10 people who undergo surgery are 65 or older.
Yet age can play a significant role in the risks people face during and after these procedures. Whether it’s a hip replacement, cataract or heart surgery, seniors with high blood pressure, clogged arteries or lung disease may take longer to recover from a surgical procedure.
Regardless of current health status, older adults should be prepared for potential surgery and complications affecting recovery. Here are a few tips to help your loved one through this challenging process.
Adjust Your Diet
Making small dietary changes can have a big impact on surgery recovery. For instance, reducing salt intake can prevent post-operative swelling and complications like heart failure, kidney damage and stroke.
If your procedure requires anesthesia, a loss of blood oxygen can increase blood pressure. Consuming less sodium can help you manage blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Nutritious foods with lower sodium content include:
- Poultry and fish
- Eggs and egg substitutes
- Dry peas and beans
- Vegetables without sauce
- Dried fruits
Post-surgery, add more protein to your diet! As we age, our bodies process these nutrients less efficiently, making it a crucial part of a senior’s meal plan. Especially after surgery, protein can help speed up the process of repairing muscle damage. Consider the following protein-rich foods:
- Lean meats and seafood
- Low-fat dairy
- Nuts and seeds
Maintain Good Hygiene
Seniors are often at higher risk for infection after surgery due to a weakened immune system. It’s imperative to keep the surgical site clean, as well as the rest of your body. Frequent handwashing can prevent the spread of dirt and bacteria to other surfaces. For the same reasons, it’s also crucial to continuously change and wash your clothing.
Maintaining a clean living space can further help reduce infection risk. Before undergoing surgery, schedule a deep cleaning of your home. After the procedure, prevent unwanted bacteria from accumulating by keeping your bathrooms, sinks, doorknobs and floors clean.
Reduce Stress Levels
Stress can weaken your immune system, which plays a vital role in the healing process. Keeping a positive attitude can help decrease feelings of stress and anxiety. Start by enjoying a new book or watching a favorite TV series during your recovery period.
Getting enough sleep can also lower stress levels, while giving your body and immune system much needed time to rest and recover.
Make sure you know your limits after surgery. Follow all instructions and recommendations from your doctor to ensure you will heal properly, without any complications. Ask about possible restrictions that may affect your mobility or day-to-day life.
Ask for Assistance
If the limitations require round-the-clock care or your home is not equipped for accessibility equipment, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Avon Health Center provides specialized recovery care to help make the healing process as easy as possible for post-surgery patients.
After being discharged from the hospital, our short-term rehabilitation program can help improve your physical strength and ability to accomplish everyday tasks. We offer pain management, intravenous antibiotic therapy, wound care and more.
Do you or a loved one have surgery scheduled? Contact Avon Health Center to plan your transition to our facility after the procedure to help with your recovery.
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