Q: My dad is going to be 80 years old this year and suffers with painful osteoarthritis in his knees. We're thinking of joint replacement surgery but are worried that because of his age, his recovery will be too hard for him. What can we expect for recovery time and what do we need to be prepared for?
Age is not determinant for total joint replacement outcomes, but rather overall function and physiologic condition. There are many things that patients can do prior to their procedure to improve surgery outcomes. These guidelines are included in the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program and cover steps for both pre- and post-surgery top help optimize the recovery process.
Some of these steps might be surprising, like drinking a carbohydrate drink two to four hours before surgery, so your body the energy you need to get through the procedure; as well as eating and drinking not long after surgery, to get your body's systems working again. It's also important to prepare your home, like making sure walkways are clear of clutter, setting up a bed or recovery area on the first floor of the home, and making a plan to confine pets. Finally, don't forget to prepare caregivers—make sure you have someone who's able to drive you to appointments, take care of meals and chores, and help you with medication and exercises.
Make sure to talk to your surgeon about what you can do to improve outcomes and recovery time, or, stop by Maui Health System's free monthly seminar on ERAS, open to all patients and physicians. Maui Health System's Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program can help you get you back to normal activities safely and significantly faster than other joint replacement programs. Over 90% of MHS joint replacement patients go home in less than 24 hours, and some the same day as their surgery. The next seminar will be held at 5 p.m. April 8 at the Maui Memorial Medical Center Auditorium. Call 808.442.5700 for more information.