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How Long Do You Need A Caregiver After Hip Surgery ? A Guide With Recovery Times

Having been my mom’s caregiver, when she had her posterior approach hip replacement at 88 years old, I know a thing, or two, about what you can expect it to be like, and how much help the patient is going to need.

After an anterior approach hip replacement, you may typically need help for 7 to 10 days at home with some tasks.

After a posterior, or lateral, approach hip replacement, you will typically need help with many tasks for 2 to 4 weeks.

The reason for this difference, with regard to requiring a carer, is due to the surgical procedures for the posterior and lateral approach hip replacements, which involve detaching tendons and muscles to place the implant in the joint, leaving the hip joint less stable after surgery, for a period of time.

Because of this instability, the patient has to follow a whole slew of precautions, which are not typically followed after an anterior hip replacement, where the surgery is minimally invasive and far less soft tissue is cut.

After a posterior, or lateral, approach hip replacement, you are not allowed to bend your hip more than 90 degrees, making numerous daily activities very difficult to accomplish without help.

You have to take the precautions due to a small risk of a hip dislocation, during the recovery period.

At the outset, I emphasized the fact that my mom was 88 years old when she had her hip replacement. I did this as the age of the patient has a huge impact on the speed, and manner, in which they will recover,

 

Do I need someone to stay with me after my hip replacement surgery ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacements

 

If you have had an anterior approach hip replacement, and you are in good health, fit, and are not very elderly, you may require some help in the very beginning of their recovery period.

Most surgeons, and clinics, advise that after an anterior approach hip replacement, the patient has some form of help for 7 to 10 days.

For the first week, after surgery, you may need a walker to help you balance, and get used to the new hip, and if that is so, you will probably need help with quite a lot of things around the house.

Most people will be able to dress on their own, and if there is pain, they will be advised to use assistive devices to make it easier, but as there are typically no precautions for bending, it is not usually a problem.

Washing and cooking may be difficult for the first week, or two, and you may need someone to help you with this.

Driving in some cases after an anterior hip replacement can be resumed after two weeks, which means that for transport to appointments and shopping, for at least the first two weeks you will need some assistance.

Caring for elderly patients after an anterior hip replacement

 

A more elderly person may need help for a longer period of time, as they may be more fragile, have health issues, and also may have more difficulty with balance.

It is also important to note that anesthetic affects the elderly to a greater extent, and can have an effect on the bladder, especially at night. An elderly person may need someone there at night to help them to the toilet, if they are very drowsy.

The pain medications may have a greater effect on an elderly person as well, which in itself is a reason to have someone present for a few weeks, as your loved one may be a little “dopey”.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements

 

If you have had a posterior, or lateral approach hip replacement, you may need a carer for at least the first two weeks to 4 weeks, depending on your age and prior state of health.

The first two, to three, weeks after the surgery will typically be the most challenging, but this does depend on the age and physical health of the person.

Because you will typically be faced with quite a number of precautions to observe, and cannot bend forwards, lean over, twist your torso when standing, or reach down, and all of that for a minimum of 6 weeks, you are going to require some level of help, for quite a while.

First you have to get used to all the precautions, and how to do things in a new way.

Activities for which a carer may be needed after posterior and lateral hip replacements

  • getting in and out of bed
  • getting to the bathroom
  • going to the toilet
  • their exercise program
  • dressing
  • bathing – getting in and out of the bath, or shower, as well as the actual washing
  • driving
  • cooking
  • household chores
  • laundry
  • groceries
  • follow-up appointments

As you can see, there is a lot of stuff that you won’t be able to do easily, for a while after a posterior, or lateral, approach hip replacement, and you will be needing to get some help.

 

Caring for an elderly person after a posterior hip replacement

 

I am going to outline all the ways in which I helped my mom after her surgery, so you really can get an idea of what is required with an elderly adult after a hip replacement.

 

Caring for Mom after her posterior approach hip replacement, at 88 yrs old –

11 Days Mom was at the hospital

For the first 4 weeks at home (weeks 2 1/2  -5 1/2) Mom had a lady carer to help her with bathing – this was done seated on a bedside commode.

 

I did the following for Mom during the first 5 1/2 weeks  –

  • I put a bedside commode for the first week in Mom’s bedroom which I tended to for her (later it was used over the toilet as a raised toilet seat once Mom could get there on time)
  • in the very beginning, helped my mom to the bedside commode
  • I shampooed Mom’s hair in a chair
  • I assisted Mom with dressing
  • I helped Mom to get in and out of bed
  • I cooked all meals – I had also cooked and frozen quite a few meals ahead
  • I served her breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • I was present for standing up and sitting down in the beginning
  • I had all the groceries delivered, and I put them away with her favorites at an easy height to get to without bending or reaching
  • I did her exercises with her
  • I walked alongside her in the beginning when she changed rooms or was doing it for exercise
  • I had organized a coffee and tea station next to the chair where Mom sat, with a kettle and some cookies, and I kept that fully stocked ! Old ladies do like their cookies…
  • I did all the laundries, vacuuming etc.

 

After about 4 weeks at home (starting week 5) –

  • I washed Mom’s legs and feet while she sat, and then she showered on her own with a walker for stability
  • I was still shampooing her hair in a chair for her
  • Mom started getting her own breakfast – I put out the items out for her the night before on a table beforehand
  • I then organized the fridge so that there was no bending down low, as she started to get more things and do a little more for herself
  • I did her exercises with her – this continued for about a year
  • I did any tasks with my mom which would stop her from twisting or bending, such as dressing if needed
  • I was still making all the lunches and dinners
  • I still was doing all the laundries, vacuuming etc.

 

After about 7 weeks –

  • Mom did not need so much help with dressing
  • Mom started to be able to do a full shower with the long handled sponge and handheld shower head
  • I still did all the chores and cooking at this point

 

I hope that gives you some idea of how much care is required for an elderly person, after a posterior, or lateral, approach hip replacement.

What do you need at home after a hip replacement ? Let’s think ahead and set things up

 

There is a lot you can do to reduce the help that may be needed after hip surgery.

Let’s see what things you can do to be better prepared for hip replacement recovery.

There are many things you can do to prepare –

Your physical health

 

In the house in general

 

  • cook, and then freeze, lots of meals in advance which you can simply heat up after your surgery
  • buy canned foods that you can just open and eat
  • buy all the non-perishables you will need for a month or so
  • all the items you are buying, need to be stored at a height where you don’t have to bend down, or reach up – between waist and shoulder height
  • put together a set of plates, bowls, glasses, mugs and cutlery that you can use after surgery, all in one place in a cupboard or on a counter, at a height where there is no bending, and where you can easily reach them
  • go through your home and collect together items you use the most each day, and create convenient places to put them at a height where you do not have to bend down, or reach up high to get them
  • if you have several floors in your home, prepare an area on the first floor where you will be spending most of your time, and set up a chair and table with kettle with tea, coffee or whatever drinks you like, cookies etc.
  • if your bed is upstairs, try to move it to the first floor, so you can avoid using the stairs
  • check that where you are getting on and off the bed, the floor is not slippery, if it is, put down some form of non-slip PVC rug underlay, or a rough mat
  • take care that your bed is at the right height, not so high that your feet dangle in the air, but are on the floor, but high enough that your hip is above your knees
  • get a bedside commode for next to the bed, especially if your bathroom is not on the same floor as where you will be sleeping
  • get a pouch for your walker, so you can carry lightweight items in it
  • you can also get a fanny pack, or small rucksack, to put items such as your cellphone in
  • get a cellphone if you don’t have one, so that you don’t have to be rushing to the phone
  • remove rugs or obstacles on which you can trip
  • move furniture away from in front of curtains, so you don’t have to reach over it to open and close the curtains
  • get as much laundry done as you can in advance, so that you have clean clothes after your surgery for the longest time possible

 

In the bathroom

The bathroom is statistically the most dangerous room in the house, so you are going to have to take quite a few precautions.

 

  • for extra stability, you will want grab bars in the shower, by the tub and by the sink – only install grab bars which are screwed on to the wall
  • a solid raised toilet seat with armrests – if you don’t get a seat with armrests, put grab bars on the walls around the toilet
  • if you don’t want grab bars around the toilet, you can also put a safety frame on the toilet, along with the raised toilet seat
  • in the shower you should use a shower seat/bench/chair, and wash yourself  sitting down, with all the items you need in a caddy next to you, so you don’t have to bend down, or reach to get to things
  • shower with a handheld shower head, so you don’t have to move around a lot, you can just move your hand
  • put non-slip mats in the shower, and by the bathtub

Equipment needed after hip replacement surgery

Here are some relatively inexpensive items and assistive devices which will make life a lot simpler after a hip replacement –

  • a reacher
  • a leg lifter
  • non-slip PVC rug underlay
  • a cane
  • crutches
  • an open front toilet seat
  • wiping aids – toilet wands
  • a handheld bidet spray
  • a bidet toilet seat
  • a raised toilet seat
  • a bedside commode
  • an elastic shoe laces
  • slip on shoes
  • a long handled shoe horn
  • a dressing stick
  • a shower chair or bench
  • a shower walker
  • a bath board
  • a bath transfer bench
  • a long handled sponge
  • a non-slip rubber mat
  • grab bars
  • a toilet safety frame
  • an upright chair with armrests and a firm and high seat

Toilet hygiene after a hip replacement

After an anterior approach hip replacement, you should not have any problems with toilet hygiene, but if you do, the following information will apply to you as well.

After a posterior or lateral approach  hip replacement, for toilet hygiene you will need to learn how to  –

  • sit down and stand up, using a walker
  • use a raised toilet seat
  • use a bottom wiping device, or handheld bidet sprayer

 

Toilet hygiene aids

 

Open Front Seats

Safety frames with raised toilet seats and 3-in-1 bedside commodes, both have models which feature open front seats, which allow for greater access for personal care.

This extra access may be necessary, if you need to use a few devices to help you with your hygiene, while observing hip recovery precautions which preclude any bending and twisting.

 

A raised toilet seat – to elevate your toilet seat to a new height, you will need a raised toilet seat.

I suggest only getting models with armrests, and preferably those which stand over the toilet on four legs, for increased stability.

 

A 3-in1 bedside commode – these can be used as a raised toilet seat, as well as a toilet in a bedroom next to the bed as a toilet without running water.

Especially handy for when you first come home from the hospital, as getting quickly to the toilet won’t be possible, a 3-in-1 commode by the bed, is even more handy at night, as you may be drowsy, very unsteady, and unfit to walk around too much.

 

A toilet wand – these enable you to clean yourself after going to the toilet without bending, leaning forwards, over reaching, and twisting. All toilet wands have a gripping device, of some description, on the opposite end from the handle, where you can attach your wipes or toilet paper.

 

Handheld bidet sprays – this allows for total hygiene after going to the toilet, without any bending. You just the spray to clean yourself with water, from between your thighs, and then dry off afterwards.

The bidet spray is on a hose, which is easily attached to your toilet inlet valve.

If you get one, I would suggest that you get either a safety frame with a raised toilet seat, or a 3-in-1 bedside commode, and both with an open front seat,  as this will give you more room for the handheld spray.

If you like the idea of a bidet, you can also get units which –

  • are incorporated into a toilet seat, and which just require bolting to the toilet and attaching to the water inlet pipe
  • can be attached under your existing seat toilet seat, and then attached to the water inlet pipe

 You can also get models which have temperature controls, if you want a little added luxury !

 

How long before you walk after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Typically, with all types of hip replacement surgery, you will walk on the day of the surgery.

 

How long before you shower after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Typically, with all types of hip replacement surgery, you have to wait 48 hrs before showering, but I have seen surgeons websites which say 4 days, or 96 hrs.

 

How long before you can take a bath after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

You can bathe, sitting on a bath board, or transfer bench, as soon as your surgeon says you can get your incision wet – 48 – 96 hours, as with a shower.

As soon as your incision has healed, you can sit in a tub with the incision immersed underwater – usually 6 to 8 weeks.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically,  you cannot sit in a bath tub on the bottom for 12 weeks after posterior and lateral approach hip replacements.

Typically, sitting on a bath board, or a bath transfer bench, you can bathe sitting over the tub after the 48 – 96 hr, depending on your surgeons’ advice – it will depend on how much pain you have, but you would most likely need help to do this in the first week.

 

How long before you can immerse your incision in water after hip replacement surgery ?

 

You can immerse your hip in water once it has completely healed, which will depend on how your incision was closed – dissolving stitches, staples etc.

I have seen a range of dates from 2 to 8 weeks after surgery, with 6 weeks after surgery being the most common.

To get a definitive answer, you will need to ask your surgeon, as they will know how the incision was closed, and how well it has healed.

 

How many weeks should you ice your hip after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Typically, with all types of hip replacement surgery, you are advised to ice your hip for two weeks, and at least 3 – 4 times a day.

 

When can I bend down after a hip replacement ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

Normally, you do not have restrictions on bending after an anterior approach hip replacement.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically, it is going to be 6 to 12 weeks before you can bend over beyond 90 degrees.

 

When can I kneel down after a hip replacement ?

 

Typically, with all types of hip replacement surgery, after 12 weeks, you may be allowed to kneel down.

 

How long after a hip replacement can I tie my shoes ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

Normally, you do not have restrictions on bending after an anterior approach hip replacement.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically, it is going to be 6 to 12 weeks before you can bend over to tie your shoes.

 

How long does it take to walk unaided after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

Typically, you will be walking unaided at home after 2 weeks.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically, you will be walking unaided after 3 – 6 weeks.

 

How long do you need to use a raised toilet seat after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

You should have no restrictions on how you sit, so you should not need a raised toilet seat.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically, after the posterior and lateral approach hip replacements, you will need a raised toilet seat for up to 6 to 10 weeks.

 

How long before you can sit in a normal chair after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

You should have no restrictions on how you sit, so can sit in a normal chair straight away – although you may be advised to keep away from excessively low seats.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically, it is up to 6 to 10 weeks before you can sit in a normal chair, and still it would be a good idea to sit in a chair with armrests and a firm seat for a while longer.

 

How long before you can drive after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

1) You cannot drive until you have stopped taking opioid pain medication – narcotics.

2) If it is your left hip, 1 – 2 weeks

3) If it is your right hip, 2 – 4 weeks

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

1) You cannot drive until you have stopped taking opioid pain medication – narcotics.

2) If you had surgery on the right hip, you should not drive for at least 4 weeks.

3) If you had surgery on the left hip, you may drive an automatic when you feel comfortable enough to do so, and only if you are not taking pain medication.

4) If you are driving a stick shift, you must wait until at least 4 weeks have passed, and it is the same for both hips.

 

***In the UK you are supposed to wait 6 weeks before you start driving again.

 

How long before you can have intercourse after hip replacement surgery ?

 

Anterior approach hip replacement –

You can return to sex as soon as you want, as long as it does not hurt, and you must avoid lunging and hip extensions, which are part of your anterior hip replacement precautions.

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically, you are advised to wait 6 to 8 weeks, and to avoid any extreme positions, or being too vigorous.

 

How long before you can go swimming after hip replacement surgery ?

Firstly, you cannot immerse your incision fully in water until it has completely healed.

Anterior approach hip replacement –

Swimming can be done as soon as your wound is healed (some surgeons say 8 weeks, some say 4 weeks, and some say 2 weeks)

 

Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements –

Typically, you cannot swim for up to 6 – 12 weeks, and a lot of surgeons advise against doing breast stroke.

Sources for this article –

https://www.edwinsu.com/anterior-hip-replacement-post-op-instructions.html

https://www.newyorkhipknee.com/faqs/total-hip-replacement-faqs/

https://www.stefankreuzermd.com/anterior-hip-replacement.html

https://www.nwh.org/classes-and-resources/patient-guides-and-forms/joint-replacement-surgery-patient-guide/joint-replacement-faqs

https://www.ozorthopaedics.com.au/blog/how-long-after-a-hip-replacement-can-i-tie-my-shoe-laces-23710.html

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/activities-after-hip-replacement/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17102-hip-replacement

https://scottsdalejointcenter.com/patient-education/anterior-total-hip-replacement-precautions/

https://www.arthritis-health.com/surgery/hip-surgery/anterior-hip-replacement-dos-and-donts

https://ortho.duke.edu/sites/ortho.duke.edu/files/u18/Anterior%20Hip%20Precautions.pdf

https://www.sehat.com/sleeping-positions-after-anterior-hip-replacement

https://www.henrymayo.com/documents/CP-Anterior-Hip-Complete.pdf

https://www.newportcentersurgical.com/orthopedic-surgery/how-long-is-recovery-from-direct-anterior-hip-replacement/

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000167.htm

https://snibbeorthopedics.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Post-Op-Instructions-Total-Hip.pdf

http://www.kocortho.com/files/7714/0359/0016/dr-nadaud-faq-thr.pdf

https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/operations-tests-and-procedures/how-soon-can-i-go-swimming-after-surgery/

https://www.orthopedicandfracturespecialists.com/anterior-approach-to-total-hip-replacement-faqs.html

https://www.drboettner.com/posterior-approach-total-hip-replacement-surgery-faqs-hip-knee-replacement-uniondale-new-york.html

I’m Gareth and I’m the owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com

I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.

Gareth Williams

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