Senior woman gets a kiss from her loving adult sonDiscectomies, spinal fusions, herniated disk repairs and more….600,000 back surgery procedures are performed every year in the U.S., according to Medicine Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In fact, back surgery is so common that if you don’t already know someone who has had it, chances are you will at some point. Heavy lifting at jobs, accidents that cause injuries and even a sedentary lifestyle combined with weight gain can all put pressure on the spine and cause problems that need to be surgically corrected. Family and friends often end up being temporary caregivers for these surgery patients after they come home. If you find yourself in the position of caregiver, you’ll want to give your loved one the best care possible while remembering to take care of yourself as well. Here are three ways to be the best temporary caregiver ever for someone who has just had back surgery.

1. Keep The Home Environment Safe

You don’t want your “patient” to become injured once back at home. This could cause permanent disability. At the very least, it could prolong the recovery. So talk with the doctor beforehand about what safety precautions you can take. Some of the most common precautions you can take include:

  • Installing an elevated seat over the toilet
  • Putting non-slip rugs on the bathroom floors and in the shower
  • Eliminating all potential hazards and Clearing all walkways of clutter or low-to-the-ground furniture.
  • Putting pets in a different part of the house while the patient is recovering to eliminate the risk of tripping

2. Discuss Expectations of Your Duties Beforehand

You want to make sure that you, the surgeon and your loved one are all on the same page as to what you will be doing for them during the recovery period. The surgeon can tell you what the patient will definitely need, and the patient can let you know what he feels like he needs as he continues to improve after surgery. You’ll probably have to do some basic caregiving at first, such as washing his hair in a basin on the bed, providing sponge baths and emptying out plastic urinals until he is able to get out of bed long enough to do these things on his own.

Cooking him his meals or at least bringing him three meals a day is a given. You might also need to take him to and from physical therapy or arrange for a therapist to come to the house, then help him with his home exercises until he’s regained some strength. Basic housekeeping will also probably be expected.

3. Make Sure the Patient is Following the Doctor’s Orders

Any kind of back surgery is going to have some pretty strict rules from the doctor that your loved one must follow for the first few weeks after the operation. Even a minimally invasive procedure such as those offered at the many nationwide Laser Spine Institute locations will come with a list of post-operative instructions. As the head of the home recovery team, it is your job to make sure your loved one follows these instructions.

Keep reminding them of that; keep an eye on them to make sure they’re following the rules, and most of all, have a lot of compassion and patience. He or she is going through a rough time, after all. If you do all of these things, your loved one will be back on their feet in no time and your duties as a temporary caregiver will be complete.


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