Caring for a loved one after a hip replacement

Caring for a loved one after an operation

If a family member or friend is having a hip replacement, you’ll want to know if there’s anything you can do to help them with their recovery.

The first thing to say is that many people manage just fine on their own after a hip replacement. You don’t have to do everything for your partner, and in fact, it could potentially hinder their recovery if you do.

Here are some tips to think about before their operation to help you all prepare for the weeks after surgery:

Do they need to live downstairs?

It’s a common misconception that you’ll need to live downstairs after a hip replacement. This isn’t usually the case.

Before a patient can be discharged from hospital, they will need to be able to manage the stairs on their own. Don’t worry though, a physiotherapist will practise this with them. It may not be easy, but they should be able to do a flight of stairs unassisted. So while of course you’re free to move a bed downstairs to make life easier, this isn’t a requirement.

What about seating?

For patients of average height (less than six feet tall) the majority of chairs and toilets are safe to use without adaptation. If you are tall or have long thighs or legs, you may require chair and toilet raises that can be issued to you by the hospital.

Follow the guidance on standing and sitting technique as per your physiotherapist’s instruction. If you’re sitting to a particularly low surface (such as a sofa) use caution, and pay attention to how the hip feels. Do not force the hip into any movement that causes pain.

Getting in and out of cars

If you have a choice of cars, then picking the one with extra legroom and the higher seating position is preferable. Raise the passenger seat to the highest position it will go to and move it back to the furthest position too.

Then a top tip is to put a cheap plastic bag on the seat. When they lower themselves to sit down, the bag just makes it a bit easier to pivot their legs into the car.

Most patients don’t return to driving until at least six weeks after surgery. They can ask their consultant if they’re unsure.

Buy useful accessories for around the house

The majority of people will not require assistive equipment, as moving and performing daily tasks within your limits is an essential part of your recovery. If you live alone, or struggle with daily tasks such as washing and dressing, some items can be useful.  You can buy a range of simple tools and accessories which can make a big difference to basic activities around the house. These can be obtained from the hospital. Here are a few examples:

You can buy a range of simple tools and accessories which can make a big difference to basic activities around the house. Here are a few examples:

  • Long reach grabber for picking items up from the floor
  • Long-handled shoe horn
  • Long-handled sponge
  • Sock aid

It’s also worth thinking about getting some slip-on shoes, rather than shoes with laces, as it may be difficult to do up laces by bending forwards during the first six week post-operative period.

Support from a friend or neighbour

If your family member or friend is living alone, and you can’t visit regularly, it’s worth asking if a neighbour or friend can be a local point of contact.

Any support with cooking, shopping and some cleaning will always be a huge help, especially over the first few weeks.

Motivation and encouragement

We provide all the information our patients need to help with their recovery, much of it before they even have their procedure. When they leave hospital though, it takes motivation and commitment to stick to the exercise programme and further reassurance that they’re doing the right things.

If you’re able to attend the physiotherapy pre-assessment appointment with your friend or family member this will be useful. The physiotherapist will provide lots of valuable information as well as demonstrate how exercises should be done, so you can actually join in and practice the techniques too.

Eating healthily during these first six weeks is vital. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest a protein rich diet can help with tissue repair. Foods such as green vegetables, nuts and eggs are good to include if they can.

Preparing for a hip replacement Hip replacement recovery - how long will it take?

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Circle Health, 32 Welbeck St, Marylebone, London W1G 8EU