Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery: To-Do Checklist

The days before your scheduled joint replacement surgery are filled with excitement, fear, anticipation and often times, anxiety. With your mind buzzing, it’s easy to overlook the i’s and t’s you should be dotting and crossing. This is totally normal. However, the better prepared you are walking into surgery, the easier and less stressful your recovery will be.

PreHab is not just about focusing on nutrition that will boost your immune system or exercising target muscles to improve strength, but is about getting you the most ready you can possible be for your scheduled hip or knee replacement. Apart of this readiness is practicing the everyday movements you’ll be doing once discharged from the hospital, having properly arranged rides to and from the hospital, and taking care of the many not-so-small checklist items.

To keep things simple, this post will cover all of the “extra” must-do checklist items to get yourself and your environment ready for surgery and recovery. Here is everything you need to prep, pack and pre-order before joint replacement surgery day--the start of your new life.

To get your free printable copy of the Joint Replacement Preparation Checklist, click "Download Now".

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1-2 Weeks Before Joint Replacement Surgery

In the weeks leading up to your hip or knee replacement, you’re ideally well acquainted with your PreHab program and seeing improvements to your health by way of better eating, exercising targeting key muscle groups, participating in mindfulness training and so forth. In addition to getting your mind and body in check, it’s time to check off the items from your pre-surgery to-do list that require some advanced notice.

1. Pre-Order Mobility Equipment

Making sure that you’ve got the right mobility equipment for your recovery is an absolute must. Depending on your insurance and the care center you’re having the procedure done in, you may have to order your own walker, cane, and crutches. Ordering online and having everything shipped straight to your door is an easy way to cross this item off your list. Test driving your mobility equipment is highly recommended as it eases your transition after surgery.

2. Get your Home Recovery Ready

Whether you will be discharged straight home after surgery or you will return home after spending time in a post-acute care center, it’s super important that your friendly abode is, well, friendly when you arrive. This means making sure that pathways are cleared, you’ve made proper alterations to your bathroom, and if possible, you’ve “nested” a living space on a single floor.

Here are the important preparations for your home:

a) Install comfort height toilet or raised toilet seat
b) Install horizontal and/or vertical grab bar on the walls beside toilet
c) Get a shower seat or bathroom commode chair for the shower
d) Install horizontal and/or vertical grab bars for the shower
e) Clear pathways (move furniture and tripping hazards wide enough for mobility equipment to pass through)
f) Remove cords to prevent tripping
g) Remove rugs and slippery carpets
h) Install nightlights down dark hallways
i) Setup accessible, “nesting” space with furnishings such as: comfortable recliner with arms, day bed, mini fridge to keep drinks and ice, electronics and chargers, grabbing reacher etc.

3. Prepare Healthy Frozen Food

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Remember Y2K when everyone embarrassingly stocked up on essentials thinking the world was ending? Well, time to pretend it’s the year 2000 again by stockpiling your freezer with a surplus of reheatable, nutritious, frozen foods.

During your recovery, you won’t want to be cooking. The more healthy meals you have frozen, the more restful your recovery and the more likely you are to eat well-balanced, nutrient-dense foods. Here is an article on the super nutritionally-rich foods that promote healing, reduce inflammation, and can get you back on your toes faster. Two weeks worth of lunches and dinners should make you a very happy healer.

2 Days Before

In the short days before your scheduled surgery, you’ll want to tie up any loose ends and get everything prepared for the big day. Remember, the better job you do at getting ready for your replacement, the more energy you can place on what really matters--you’re recovery.

Here’s what you’ll want to pack for your hospital stay:

Clothes

  • Loose pajamas or short nightgown and short robe if desired
  • Under garments
  • Socks
  • Loose shorts
  • Sweatpants or jogging pants (tear aways)
  • Short and long-sleeved tops
  • Zippered sweatshirt
  • Slippers with backs and rubberized sole or walking sneakers/shoes with Velcro® closures or elastic shoe laces
  • Socks

Personal items

  • Electronics: Mobile phone with charger, Ipad or Tablet, Laptop etc.
  • Personal toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, denture cleanser/cup, deodorant, electric or other razor, shaving cream, comb, chapstick, any other cosmetics. NO powders!)
  • Books, magazines, notepad.
  • Pen

Medical Equipment

  • Eyeglasses
  • Hearing aid and batteries
  • CPAP machine settings, tubing, and machine
  • Any hand-carry equipment you may have such as a reacher, sock aid, long-handled shoe horn.

Documents

  • Current list of medications and supplements, noting which ones have been stopped
  • Copy of your Advanced Directives
  • Important telephone numbers (Including the person driving you home)
  • Driver’s license or photo ID, insurance card, Medicare or Medicaid card

Do not pack valuables such as jewelry, credit cards, checkbooks or cash. Also, do not bring your walker. The person driving you home should bring it at the time of your discharge.

24 Hours Before

alt news Now that you’re mobility equipment is sorted, your living space is prepped and your bags are backed, it’s time to get you ready.

Things to Do

  • Remove any nail polish.
  • Before bed, shower using antibacterial soap and wash your hair (bathing can reduce the amount of bacteria on the skin and may lessen the risk of infection after surgery).
  • Sleep in clean pajamas or clothes.
  • Sleep on freshly laundered linens.
  • Confirm that your safe ride to and from the hospital knows your schedule. If you’re using PeerWell and Lyft, ensure you’ve properly set up your ride via the app.

Do Not's

  • Do NOT eat or drink anything after the time you were instructed; ice chips, gum, or mints are NOT allowed.
  • Do NOT smoke.
  • Do NOT use lotions or powders.
  • Do NOT shave before surgery.
  • Do NOT shower the morning of your surgery.

Surgery Day

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Important things to remember:

  • Take only the medications you have been told to take; take them with a small sip of water.
  • Comply with the strict instructions about food / beverage consumption.
  • Do not wear makeup or jewelry.
  • If you're preparing for joint replacement surgery with diabetes, do not take insulin unless otherwise instructed. Do not take your oral diabetes medication (pills) on the morning of your surgery unless otherwise instructed.
  • It is natural to have some pre-surgery anxiety. If you get a chance, turn on one of the mindfulness meditations in this program to center yourself.
  • Keep calm and relaxed. If you find yourself getting anxious, refer to your mindfulness mediation exercises in the PeerWell PreHab app. Remember, this is a giant leap forward toward a greater tomorrow!

Download Your Printable Copy of the Pre-Surgery To-Do List

Do you want a printable copy of this pre-surgery checklist? Click here for your free copy. Print it off and cross of each important to-do as your joint replacement date approaches.

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Hi, I'm Grace. I write all things surgery for the PeerWell blog. You may remember me from such titles as: "Diabetes & Joint Replacement 101" & "Sex After a Joint Replacement".

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