Your parent is having surgery. This comes with hopes for a healthy recovery, as well as its share of concerns. As your family addresses the immediate needs for your parent’s care, you think about the coming weeks and months.

Here are some tips to consider while planning for safe, at-home care.

Preparations and Planning

Regardless of the type of surgery, there are steps you can take ahead of time. Having these in place will help you and your parent prepare for as smooth a return home as possible.

Equipment Needs

  • Decide where your parent will rest and sleep. Will you need to change the sleep area or rent a bed? Rearrange furniture for safe ambulation and equipment needs.
  • Assure the bathroom setup is safe and easy to access. Consider the use of an elevated toilet seat, commode, and/or urinal. Safety handles can be installed by the toilet and in the bath area. A seat for bathing promotes safety and security.
  • Does your parent need help getting around? Safe post-op walking may mean use of a walker, cane or crutches. A wheelchair adds security for those with mobility concerns.
  • Your parent may need other types of durable medical equipment. These include medication administration aids, such as nebulizers and blood glucose monitors. Oxygen equipment is another example.

Support Needs

Ask the surgeon about average recovery time for the type of surgery your parent is having. This information will help your family plan realistically for home care support needs. Discussing this part of planning benefits everyone’s well being!

Medicare has a health insurance helplines. These services can answer your insurance questions and offer you info prior to and following your parent’s surgery by calling the number on your parent’s card.

Household Needs

Stocking ahead can save your family time and effort. As your parent becomes more independent it will be an added benefit to have needed items on hand, such as:

  • Frozen/canned foods for easy to prepare meals.
  • Personal and toiletry supplies.
  • Entertaining activities, reading, and viewing.

Follow-up Care

Your parent’s post-op care includes following doctor’s orders and keeping appointments. Being clear about post-surgery instructions adds to your security as your parent goes home. Plan to have a healthcare team member discuss discharge instructions when you are available. It is important for you to have any questions answered. Post-surgery points to review include:

  • Who to call if you have concerns about your parent’s condition.
  • Signs and symptoms to watch for that are clearly described.
  • A thorough medication list—make note of recent changes.
  • Prescriptions are sent to the pharmacy or already filled.
  • Specific activity recommendations, including walking, bathing, going outside, and prescribed exercises.
  • Being given necessary supplies or where they can be purchased, such as dressing/wound supplies, compression stockings, and colostomy bags.
  • Concerns and questions can still arise. Your role as health advocate is very important—don’t hesitate to ask or call!

Recovery and Comfort Care

Comfort tips include keeping the environment safe, restful, and nurturing. Simple steps that promote recovery and comfort include:

  • Assuring that pain is well managed—supported positioning, taking pain medication as prescribed, and well fitting, easy on and off clothing and safe footwear all help.
  • Preventing infections: check that the incision is clear—also, wash hands frequently, contain sneezes, and restrict visitors who don’t feel well!
  • Taking slow, deep breaths—supporting the abdomen with pillows lessens discomfort.
  • Getting up and walking according to doctor’s guidelines—each step promotes healing!
  • Placing items within reach if possible—this promotes independence and encourages movement.
  • Drinking fluids frequently and following any restrictions.
  • Eating a healthy diet that follows recommendations. Several small snacks and meals may be more appetizing than larger ones.
  • Regular elimination—a full bladder and constipation are uncomfortable!

Caregiver Respite

People who provide post-surgery care benefit from time away from caregiving. It’s important to take care of yourself! Your loved one will gain from a change of pace and chance to visit with others. Talking with your parent about respite care options helps you learn about preferences and concerns.

Cranberry Home Care provides in-home support for people after surgery. This may be ongoing care, or respite care for family members. Our senior home care agency provides free consultations, assisting you with the thoughtful decisions you have to make for your parents’ care.



  • MedlinePlus. (2017). Getting your home ready—after the hospital. Retrieved from
  • WebMD. (2017). How to plan for recovery at home after surgery. Retrieved from