It can be nerve-wracking when you or a loved one has a hospital stay – even when it's planned.
There's so much to think about, you may not consider what happens when you come home. But, what you do during the post-discharge period is important for a healthy recovery. And there are things you can do both before and after surgery to set yourself up for success.
Here are six ways you can plan for a healthy recovery.
Create a safe recovery space
"One of the first things you should do is talk to your doctor about any limitations or restrictions post-surgery, so you can plan," says Debra Glover, RN, MSN, Manager of Clinical Health Services, Aetna. For example, if you're having surgery on your leg, you won't be able to use the stairs, so you'll need to set up a designated recovery space in one room of your house. Bring all the items you use most with you. And be sure to keep the space clear of any tripping hazards like scatter rugs or loose charging cables. If your hospital stay was unplanned, ask a friend or family member if they can help set up your home before you leave the hospital.
Talk with a licensed Aetna representative
Monday-Friday 8am to 8pm CT
Saturday 9am to 5pm CT
Consider assistive devices
Sometimes products like a detachable shower head or a raised toilet seat can help make personal care a little easier while you regain strength and mobility. Don't be afraid to ask your doctor or nurse for recommendations. They may have suggestions for equipment that can make the transition home a smooth one. In some cases, these products may qualify as durable medical equipment and may be covered under your Medicare Advantage plan.
Follow discharge instructions
It's important to follow your doctor's care instructions and to give your body adequate time to rest, so it can heal. If you're recovering from surgery, Glover recommends checking your wound daily and being aware of any signs of infection. Call your doctor if you develop a fever within 48 hours of getting stiches, have increased pain, redness, swelling or discharge at the surgical site.
Maintain a healthy diet
"Diet and nutrition are key to an optimal recovery," Glover says. It's important to eat nutritious meals that can help your body heal. If you have a planned procedure coming up, try preparing some healthy meals and freeze them ahead of time. Family and friends may also be able to help. Another option is too look into a meal delivery service that's available in your area.
Keep active – within reason
Depending on your condition, staying active with low-impact exercises, like walking or swimming, may help you regain strength and stability. Always ask your doctor first and be sure to follow any instructions they give you.
Keeping in touch with loved ones and doing activities like yoga or meditation can help combat the blues. While it's common to feel a little down after a hospital stay or procedure, you should talk to your doctor or someone you trust about how you're feeling. "Fear can lead to isolation, which can compound this," Glover says.
If you don't have family or friends nearby, don't worry. Most hospitals have a discharge planner and a social worker who can meet with you before you go home. They can help you put together a plan for recovery and connect you with helpful resources in your community.
Speak to a licensed Aetna representative about Medicare
Monday-Friday 8am to 8pm CT, Sat. 9am to 5pm CT
1-833-942-1968 (TTY: 711)