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    How to Plan for Recovery at Home After Surgery

    By Amanda Gardner
    WebMD Feature

    You can make your recovery at home go a lot smoother if you take a little time to plan ahead. Ask your doctor what you won't be able to do at first while you're healing up, and get help from friends and family to prepare your living space.

    Do I need to make changes to my house?

    This depends on the kind of operation you have. If it's a complicated one, like a joint replacement or stomach surgery, you may need to tweak a few things:

    Stairs. If you can't climb up and down them after your surgery, you might have to make some changes. Is your bedroom is upstairs? You may need to sleep on the ground floor for a while.

    Ask your friends or family to move your bed before you go into the hospital, or check into renting a hospital bed if you need it.

    Stock your pantry. Ask your doctor if you have to stick to a certain diet. Make sure you're well supplied with the right food before you get back home.

    Since you may feel tired during your recovery, prepare some meals before your operation and put them in the freezer.

    Equipment. After some types of surgery, you'll need to have special gear at home. Plan ahead if your doctor tells you that you need oxygen tanks, elevated toilets, shower seats, supplies to care for your cut, or other items.

    Get in touch with your insurance company to see if they're part of your coverage.

    How can I stay safe from falls?

    "People get dizzy because they haven't eaten for a few days and from being in bed," says Frederick L. Greene, MD, a medical director at the Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, N.C.

    You may need to get a walker or crutches to cut down your risk of a spill.

    To avoid stumbling:

    • Sleep in a bedroom near a bathroom.
    • Place night lights in hallways.
    • Get rid of the clutter in your home.
    • Wear flat shoes or slippers.

    Will I need to hire someone?

    Surgery can be a big deal. Sometimes it can sap your energy for days or weeks afterward. Your family may be able to help, or you might need a health care professional.

    Make arrangements in advance if your surgeon suggests getting a nurse, physical therapist, or health aide. You can get recommendations from your friends, doctor, hospital’s home-care department, or insurance company. Make sure you schedule the first visit before you leave the hospital.

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