How Caregivers Can Prepare Patients for Hip Replacement

by MichelleR on September 20, 2013

client and cg thumbs upHip replacement is a person’s chance to reclaim the part of their life that was taken away by a damaged hip.

Getting through recovery is a journey that a caregiver may take with the patient.

As a caregiver, a good thing to do for someone who is about to receive a hip replacement is to help them understand what the surgery involves, how to make recovery easier and what to expect during the rehabilitation process.

A patient needs to know what to expect in the days following the procedure. The patient will need help and people in place to do things for them, and their house needs to be ready to accommodate someone in such a delicate condition.

Understand Hip Replacement

During hip replacement surgery, the damaged or diseased part of the hip is removed and replaced with artificial parts. The goal is to eliminate pain and restore mobility.

Hip replacement is considered routine, safe and effective. Each year, more than 330,000 Americans have total hip replacement surgery.

Make Sure Their Home Is Recovery-Friendly

After hip replacement surgery, there are many things a patient will not be able to do. They will not be able to bend the hip in order to complete simple tasks like sitting on the toilet or picking up things off the floor.

The patient’s home should be outfitted in order to make things easy and comfortable:

  • Everyday items should be placed within arm’s reach to help the patient avoid bending and stretching too much.
  • An at-home “recovery station” should be set up, and should include the television remote, a phone, medical supplies, food and water.
  • The kitchen should be stocked with supplies and ready-made dinners that only need heating up.
  • The home needs to be fall-proof. Falling can injure the patient and damage the new hip, so it’s important to de-clutter a patient’s home before they return. Watch out for loose electrical cords, rugs and other things that could cause an accident.

Put a Social Circle in Place  

Ideally, it is nice to have someone available 24 hours a day to be by the side of someone recovering from hip replacement surgery.

As a caregiver, it may not be possible for you to be there at all times, so it is important to have a network of people who can help the patient with their needs.  Someone will have to be at the house during the first week or two after surgery. It could be a friend, relative or neighbor.

Driving will not be an option for weeks, so someone will need to pick up medications and drive the patient to physical therapy and follow-up appointments.

Know the Importance of Physical Therapy and Exercise

After hip replacement surgery, a patient should be prepared to exercise. In the beginning, the patient will have to walk with a cane, walker or crutches until the doctor allows them to apply more weight.

The physical therapist will help the patient learn how to use the new hip.

You may want to find someone who will exercise or take walks with the patient to keep them motivated as recovery continues.

Know the Medical Risks

Even though hip replacement surgery is considered safe, patients need to know what to look for in case there are complications. Possible risks include:

  • Dislocation
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
  • Blood clots

Dislocation is the most common worry, and patients will probably get to know those risks as they attend physical therapy.

Caregivers should also encourage their patients to talk to the surgeon about which type of implant will be used in their surgery. Some implants have a higher risk of complications, including metal-on-metal hips.


Jennifer Mesko is the managing editor of, a consumer advocacy website. She aims to keep the public informed about dangerous prescription drugs and defective medical devices.

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