After recovering from heart surgery, an intricate web of care needs occurs, from dietary changes to incision care, pain management, swelling reduction, and more. The last thing an older adult wants after returning home from such a difficult event is to face the need for rehospitalization.
Live Well at Home, the Roseville, CA in home care experts, knows its important that your senior loved one recuperates fully and as quickly as possible from heart surgery, and offers the following elder care guidelines:
Caring for the Incision
Guidelines on how to care for the incision will be given prior to leaving the hospital. Issues to be aware of include:
- Remember to keep the incision clean and dry.
- The incision can be gently washed (don’t rub) with soap. Don’t use creams or lotions on incisions until healing is complete.
- Sometimes a swelling or lump arises at the top of the chest incision, and can take several months to disappear completely.
- If the incision is healing and dry, quick showers (no longer than 10 minutes) are typically permitted. If there are stitches in the chest, stand with your back to the shower spray.
- If showers are not available, quick baths (limited to 10 minutes) may be taken.
- Avoid extreme hot or cold water temperatures, as they can cause faintness.
At first, there might be some muscle or incision discomfort in the chest area during activity, but there should not be pain in the chest equivalent to the pain prior to surgery.
- A prescription for a pain medication will be given before leaving the hospital.
- Itching, tightness and/or numbness along the incision are normal after surgery.
- If the surgery was bypass surgery, and if vein grafts from the legs were used, there may be more pain in the legs than surrounding the chest incision.
- Walking, daily activities, and time will help to reduce leg discomfort and stiffness.
It is possible to return home with some degree of swelling in the legs and feet, specifically if vein grafts were taken from the legs. If swelling is noted:
- Lift feet up higher than heart level when resting. Try doing this three times a day for one hour to relieve swelling. (Note: recliners do not adequately elevate feet.)
- Walk daily even if legs are swollen.
- Hospital support hose may be suggested.
- Do not cross your legs while lying in bed or sitting. This puts pressure on the veins from under the knees and slows blood flow.
The recovery time period can be a daunting time and you may be tempted to call the physician over every discomfort or symptom. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, call your physician immediately:
- Temperature above 101 degrees F on more than one occasion or chills for 24 hours.
- An excessive amount of oozing, redness, swelling or tenderness at the incision sites.
- Increased lethargy or shortness of breath.
- Abnormal pain or other symptoms not eased by medications.
- If the sternum feels like it moves, or it pops or cracks with movement.
The professional Roseville, CA in home care services of Live Well at Home by Eskaton can help tremendously in keeping your senior loved one on the road to recovery after heart surgery by offering transitional care services, helping around the house and with meals to allow the senior to rest and recover, running errands, picking up prescriptions, and so much more. Call us at 916-459-3220 or contact us online to let us know more about how our Roseville, CA in home care services can help you and your family.