Community Blog

Preparing for the Potential Complications of a Total Hip Replacement Surgery

By Vicki and Brian Day

Elder Care in Schnecksville PA

Any time that your aging parent needs to undergo a medical procedure, it is important to recognize the potential risks so that you are prepared for them. This will enable you to give your parent the care that they need to avoid complications or manage them if they do arise. 

Total hip replacement is one of the most common procedures performed on older adults throughout the United States each year. This is a routine procedure and one that is very low risk. This does not mean, however, that there are no potential complications. Being aware of these potential complications is an important part of preparing for the surgery and for the care that your loved one will need throughout their recovery period.

Some of the potential complications of total hip replacement surgery include:

• Infections at the surgical site
• Hip dislocation
• Pulling or discomfort of the skin around the surgical site as it heals
• Cardiac events
• Blood clots
• Excessive bone growth that causes the bone to grow beyond its normal edges

The risk for these complications can exist for anyone who undergoes this surgery. Certain health conditions and factors, however, can increase this risk and make it more likely that your parent will deal with complications. Some of these factors and influences include:

• Obesity. Being overweight puts excessive strain on the joints, making it more likely that your parent will need to undergo hip replacement, and more likely that they will experience challenges during recovery. If you parent might need hip replacement it can be beneficial to encourage them to eat better and get more active so that they can lose weight prior to their surgery.

• Malnourishment. Your parent's body will need all of the proper nutrients to help it heal and recover. This means that if they are suffering from malnourishment before the surgery or during their recovery they will have a more difficult time healing. Remember that weight is not a reliable indicator of nourishment. Even if your parent is overweight they may not have the nutrition that they need. Consider having an elder care provider available to help your parent make better choices regarding nutrition.

• Inactivity. It takes approximately six months for a senior to fully recover from a total hip replacement surgery. During this time, however, your parent should not remain inactive. Not only will this inactivity make it more difficult for the new hip to "settle in" and the body to become accustomed to it, but it will also increase the risk of blood clots. An elderly home care provider can also benefit your parent in this situation, encouraging them to follow through with physical therapy and exercise guidelines offered by their doctor as a part of their recovery process.

• Depression. Seniors who are depressed are more likely to experience serious complications after surgery. Giving your parent emotional support and showing that you and other members of their care team are there for them will help them to feel better, stay more motivated, and focus more on getting better.