The amount of preparation that you need to do in your home before a hip replacement, really depends on whether you are having either a posterior or lateral approach hip replacement, or an anterior approach hip replacement. For Mom’s posterior approach hip replacement we had quite a lot to do in terms of moving things around, and we bought and tested a number of pieces of equipment to help with toileting and dressing.
The recovery from the posterior and lateral approach hip replacement takes longer, with the patient facing many more restrictions, or precautions in what they are allowed to do, will require specific seating arrangements, assistive devices for picking up objects, toileting and dressing, and probably quite a bit of assistance from a caregiver for a number of weeks.
Due to all of the above, there are a lot of preparations that a person can do in the home prior to their surgery.
If a person has had an anterior approach hip replacement, the recovery to normal daily activities and walking is far quicker, and the preparations required in the home are far less. Should the person need a caregiver, it will typically only be for 7 to 10 days.
CONTENTS - Overview & Quick Links
To give you a little perspective, I looked after my mom after her posterior approach hip replacement, and was responsible for all the preparations, as well as all the assistance at home after the surgery.
For my 88 yr old mom, I had to –
- buy some new equipment
- learn how the equipment worked
- learn all the different ways Mom would need to know to sit down and stand up
- set up the bathroom
- set up the bedroom
- buy a chair with armrests and a seat at the right height
- prepare a lot of meals and freeze them
I am my mom’s caregiver, so I live with her, and could also do things on the fly after her surgery, but if your caregiver does not live with you, or will not be there a lot of the time, you will want to be well prepped ahead of time.
Let’s take a look at what you can do in detail…
Preparing the home for hip replacement surgery
Most of this preparation is for those individuals who have had a posterior or lateral hip approach replacement, but some of it is useful if you had an anterior hip replacement, as you will be a little off kilter for a week or so.
If you have a home on more than one level, it is a good idea to live just one floor of your home during your recovery, at least for a few weeks, to avoid using the stairs.
Select the items you use on a daily basis in the living room, bathroom, and bedroom, and put them at a height where you can get to them in each room.
Remove any clutter from rooms which can cause you to trip and fall.
Remove any rugs which are not flat to the floor, or which are slip or slide.
Move furniture away from in front of curtains – it can cause over reaching and straining of the hip, when you try to open or close the curtains.
Fix a walker pouch, or bag, to your walker – you can transport lightweight items in it.
Wear a fanny pack, so you have a way of keeping small items with you, such as a medical alert button.
Keep a cellphone on you – in the fanny pack, in case you have an emergency.
Chairs with armrests – have one in each room you are going to be using, and with the seat at the right height.
Food and kitchen
Buy a vacuum insulated mug with a screw on lid, if you don’t have one, so you can carry it around with you without spilling your drink.
Buy a vacuum insulated thermos if you want to make larger amounts of hot drinks, which you can just keep next to you, for refills.
Buy about a month’s worth of canned foods, and non-perishables in advance.
Cook meals in advance and put them in the freezer – you can simply defrost them heat them up on the stove, or in the microwave, after your surgery.
If you have a microwave, make sure it is on a counter at the right height.
Buy 4 weeks worth of non-perishable food items.
Group all the provisions, if possible, in one place at an easy-to-reach height – between your waist and your shoulder height – remember no bending down or twisting of your upper body. Do everything standing facing forwards.
Set out on a counter in the kitchen –
- a couple of plates
- a couple of bowls
- a set of cutlery
- a glass
- a drinking cup with a cover
this way, you don’t have to reach up in a cupboard every time you eat to get stuff – between waist and shoulder height
If you have a table in the kitchen where you like to sit, make sure the chair is the right height and has armrests
Set up an area – HQ – where you will spend the bulk of your time when you are comfortable sitting
In this area have –
- a kettle or a vacuum insulated thermos
- coffee, or some other hot drinks products
- some bottles of water
- reading materials, puzzle books
- the landline telephone
Put a straight back chair with armrests, at the correct height for your in HQ – the seat has to be the right height for your hip replacement, and if you don’t know what height that is, you can find out in my article “How To Sit In A Chair After A Hip Replacement: An Illustrated Guide”, which tells you how to find the correct height, the best type of chair, how long you will need the chair, and much more.
In the first week at home, especially if the patient is elderly, they will probably be doing a lot of sleeping and lying in bed – at least that was the case for my mom.
With that in mind, you may want to set up a spot with a few snacks, cups and a kettle, next to the bed.
Set up a bedside commode next to the bed – after surgery you aren’t going to be able to get to the bathroom quickly, and a bedside commode is a lifesaver.
Especially if you, or your loved one, is elderly, as the anesthetic for surgery may cause problems with bladder control, for a month or so after, and a bedside commode next to the bed will help a lot.
Disposable incontinence briefs for elderly, just for a few weeks after the hip replacement surgery, can also help to avoid extra issues with bed-wetting.
Another solution is to protect the bed with a disposable incontinence bed under pad, if you are looking after an elderly person.
You will also need a place where you can set out the toilet supplies, next to the bedside commode, that you will need for personal care and toileting.
Don’t forget to put some kind of floor protection under the bedside commode – I have an article which covers different types of floor protection for bedside commodes, and with plenty of cheap unconventional options you can use, as well as more usual mats. You can find here – “Floor Protection For A Bedside Commode”.
Is your bed at the right height – you can’t have it too low as this may cause you to break your precautions – get bed leg casters if it is.
Is the floor next to the bed slippery, or is the bed a little high ? – if it is put down something non-slip, like a piece of PVC non-slip rug underlay – this is as cheap as it gets, and you can just tape it down, and feet will no longer slip as you get up from the bed.
With all the risks of slipping in water, the bathroom is statistically the most dangerous room in the house.
Here are some of the ways you can make it a lot safer.
Grab bars can be installed in the shower, by the tub and by the sink – only use the type that are actually screwed to the wall – and get the bars which have the etched surface, as it is easier to get a firm grip.
Clamp-on vertical bathtub grab bar for the bathtub – if you have to step over into the tub, this effectively give you a handle to hold onto which is sticking up vertically in the air.
Tension mounted floor to ceiling pole – If you don’t like the clamp-on bathtub grab bar, you can also put a pole next to the bathtub, and it has the advantage of being easily moved anywhere you need it.
A raised toilet seat with armrests – if you got a 3-in- 1 bedside commode, once you have decamped from the bedroom, the commode can be used over the toilet as a vert sturdy and safe raised toilet seat.
Shower seat/bench/chair – when you first arrive home from surgery, no matter which type of hip replacement you have had, it is a good idea wash yourself sitting down, if you are doing it in the shower.
Shower Caddy – get a shower caddy, or basket, to hold all the products together, that you like to use in the shower, so they are all in the one place, and can be set down next to where you are seated, for easy access.
Handheld shower heads are the best way to shower, as you don’t have to twist or bend to get under the water, and rinsing yourself if you are seated is far less difficult.
Place non-slip mats in the shower, and next to the bathtub, and in the tub if you are going for standing.
How to prepare yourself for a hip replacement
It is not just your home, which can be prepared for a hip surgery, you can also get your own body into shape if need be.
Individuals who are overweight should try to eat more healthily and lose some weight – you don’t want to over burden your new hip.
You can also do exercises to build up the muscles in your legs, buttocks and hips before your surgery, which can make things easier for your recovery – you can find a set of exercises on this specialist website here, https://www.durangojointreplacements.com/patient-forms/hip-exercises-before-total-hip-surgery.pdf.
It is always a good time to quit smoking – anything which helps you go into your operation healthier is a benefit.
You may want to learn the following before you have your surgery –
Learn to sit down and to stand up using a walker – the walker is there to help you maintain your stability as you sit and stand. I actually have an Illustrated article which shows how to sit down and stand up, using a walker, after a hip replacement – “How to Sit In A Chair After Hip Replacement: An Illustrated Guide”
Learn how to get on, and off, the bed, you can do this with or without a leg lifter.
Learn how to transfer to a shower seat, using a walker.
Learn how to use a bath transfer bench, or bath board, and again, you can do it with or without the aid of a leg lifter.
Sort out who is going to be your caregiver to help you after your surgery.
Make sure that your caregiver knows how to help you with –
- sitting down and standing
- transferring to a shower seat
- transferring to a bath bench or a bath board
- getting on and off a bed
- how to use the bedside commode – you will most likely not be able to empty the pale yourself
- how to use a raised toilet seat
After my mom’s surgery, the physical therapy team and the nurses showed me how to do all of the above – the reason being not only so that I knew what I was doing, but also in case my mom forgot how to do things.
You will to find someone to drive you to appointments, if it is not your caregiver
Lastly, make sure you have some decent shoes – a pair of flat shoes with a low, flat heel with a good capacity for shock absorption – something like a tennis shoe is going to essential.
Equipment needed after a hip replacement
Due to the precautions related to bending that you are going to be taking with a posterior or lateral approach hip replacement, you will find a lot of the normal daily activities will be quite difficult without a few assistive devices. This section is going to give you an idea of the assistive devices there are, and how they can help you.
Multipurpose devices –
These are the devices which are used for a bunch of different tasks, especially the reacher which you will find indispensable –
- A walker
- An indoor walker with a tray
- A reacher
- A leg lifter
- Non-slip PVC rug underlay
- A cane
Anyone who has had a hip replacement can benefit from a good chair which has the seat at the right height, even someone who has had an anterior approach hip replacement.
- Upright chairs with armrests and a firm correct height seat
Toileting, bathing and personal care
These items are really only needed by those individuals who have had a posterior or lateral hip replacement, as they are required so that you avoid bending forwards fr reaching down.
- An open front toilet seat
- Wiping aids – toilet wands
- Handheld bidet spray
- Bidet toilet seat
- Raised toilet seat
- risers with armrests
- safety frames with raised toilet seat
- 3-in-1 bedside commode
- raised toilet seats with leg
- 3-in-1 bedside commode
- Shower chair, or bench
- Shower walker
- A bath board
- Bath transfer bench
- Long handled sponge
- Non-slip rubber mats
- Grab bars
- Tension mounted floor to ceiling transfer pole
- A toilet safety frame
- A towel robe belt, or a towel cut into strips
- A hair dryer
- Disposable commode liners
Here are links to a number of my articles, where you can learn about how to use some of the items you are going to need, and about the hygiene involved.
If you are concerned with hygiene and problem of odors from a bedside commode, I have written an article about bedside commode odor control full of tips. You can read the article here – “Bedside Commode Odor Control: How to keep it Smelling Sweet”.
If you want a raised toilet seat for an elderly person who is fragile and lacking in leg strength, I would suggest you get the PlatinumHealth Gentleboost bedside commode, which has a spring-loaded mechanism which helps the user with sitting and standing. This is a 3-in-1 commode, which can be used over the toilet or by the bedside.
I have an article all about the best raised toilet seats for after a hip replacement, and I indicate which seats are best suited for elderly adults. You can read that here – “Best Raised Toilet Seats After A Hip Replacement”.
Disposable commode liners – these are going to help you to manage the hygiene and odors from your bedside commode. You use a liner each time the commode is used, and afterwards dispose of it in the trash for landfill. I have an article which talks about how to use them, the different brands, buying in bulk, and how to make your own – “How To Dispose Of Commode Liners ?“.
Dealing with toileting and with personal care after a hip replacement, in much more depth, I have several articles, which you can read here –
Assistive devices to help with dressing after a hip replacement
Because of the precautions for bending and twisting, if you don’t have a caregiver, or just want to have some autonomy, you will need these following items –
- Elastic shoe laces
- Slip-on shoes
- A long handled shoe horn
- A dressing stick
How to get the medical equipment and assistive devices for free, or cheap ?
If you have a caregiver who is going to be helping you dress and preparing all your meals – basically someone who is there all the time – you aren’t going to need all these devices, but you will probably need a few.
I can imagine you have been looking at my list thinking that this stuff is going to add up to quite a cost, and i am only going to be using it for a months or so !
But, if you plan ahead, you may be able to find a lot of the items for free, so don’t rush out and buy things straight away.
Have a good look in your area for “Medical equipment loan closets” – these are usually free, and after you are done with the equipment, you just take it back. A lot of communities have loan closets for local or county residents.
To find out if you have a local closet, you will have to do a little research –
By contacting your local Area Agency On Aging, and ask them if they know of any loan closets in your area.
If your Area Agency on Aging can’t tell you of any loan closets, check with –
- local senior citizens’ authority, be it a municipal, town or village department
- your local public Senior Center may have a loan closet, or know of other groups which run one
- private Senior Centers may well know where there is one
- local churches and ministers
- local faith groups
- Lions and Rotary Clubs
- American legion posts often loan closets
- Veterans of Foreign Wars clubs
- local charities specifically for the disabled, elderly or low income families may also know
- food panties run by charities will usually know what other charity activity there is in your area
You can also look into –
Non-profit charities who refurbish donated equipment will often loan or sell at a very low price durable medical equipment to residents of their area. To find one in your area look up charities and non-profits who accept donations of assistive equipment and DME, as they will be refurbishing that, and the passing it on.
Thrift stores also frequently have cheap used durable medical equipment, but do check that it has been sanitized and is not broken, as you don’t want to have the equipment, or device, break on you while you are using it.
How long do you need a caregiver after a hip replacement
The length of time you will need a caregiver will normally depend on which type of hip replacement surgery you have had –
- a posterior, or lateral, approach hip replacement patient may typically require help with many tasks for 2 to 4 weeks
- an anterior approach hip replacement patient may require help for 7 to 10 days at home
Both may require someone to drive them places for up to 4 to 6 weeks, depending on which hip has had the implant, and the type of transmission in their car, i.e. stick or automatic.
Home care for posterior and lateral approach hip replacements
Posterior and lateral approach hip replacements are a far more invasive form of surgery, than the anterior hip replacement.
These surgeries involve the cutting of a lot more soft tissue, and they leave the hip in a slightly unstable state, until the healing of the tissues has taken place – large buttock muscles, and other tissues, have been cut, which provide support behind the hip.
And without that support, there is a slight risk of a hip dislocation, if the patient adopts certain positions before the muscles and other soft tissues have healed.
Surgeons will make their patients aware of certain “precautions” which they have to observe, and will warn them against sitting, standing, and lying in a variety of positions.
For this reason, if you have had a posterior or lateral approach hip replacement, you will probably need assistance with a whole range of activities.
Bear in mind the older the person with the hip replacement and the poorer their health prior to surgery, the longer they may need assistance, and it may be needed for a wider variety of activities.
Here’s a list of the types of activities for which you may need assistance for up to 2 to 4 weeks after a posterior or lateral hip replacement –
– getting in and out of bed
– getting to the bathroom- going to the toilet
– your exercise program
– bathing – getting in and out of the bath, or shower, as well as the actual washing
– household chores
– follow-up appointments
My mom, who had her hip replacement at the age of 88, required my help for almost everything for 6 weeks – I took care of the majority of the household chores, the cooking, the groceries etc. for around 2 months at least.
My mom had a carer who helped her to bathe for 4 weeks, and I continued to help her for another two weeks.
I have an article here – “How Long Do You Need A Caregiver After Hip Surgery ? A Guide With Recovery Times”, in which I go over typical timelines of recovery, and what is required when you are caring for a more elderly adult after a posterior approach hip replacement.
Home care for anterior approach hip replacements
Typically, after an anterior hip replacement, you don’t have restrictions on bending, so you should be able to –
– dress on your own, with, or without, dressing aids
– wash on your own, just wait 48 hours after surgery, you may want to use a shower chair, so you don’t risk slipping
– you should not immerse your incision before your surgeon has said it is completely healed
Because you are using a walker for the first 5 – 10 days, you may need help with –
– cooking and housework
– driving for at least 2 weeks, and depending on the which hip it is, and your car is a stick or automatic, it can be as much as four weeks before you can drive
I’m Gareth, the author and owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com
I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.