Many seniors suffer from heart valve disease in which the valves that help control the flow of blood don’t work correctly. The treatment for the problem is often heart valve replacement or repair surgery. How the older adult’s body reacts to and recovers from the surgery depends on a number of individual factors, including how their overall health is prior to the surgery. Though no one can predict exactly what will happen following the surgery, it can be helpful to know some general information about what to expect.
Preparing for Surgery.
Prior to the procedure, the doctor and medical team will talk to the senior about the surgery. They will explain what will happen before, during, and afterward. It can be helpful to go into this meeting with a list of questions. Writing them down can help you remember what you want to ask.
Preparation for the surgery will involve a number of medical tests, including blood tests, x-rays, and an electrocardiogram (EKG). In addition, the site of the incision will be shaved, if necessary. On the night before the surgery, the doctor may want the senior to wash with a special antiseptic soap. They may also have them stop taking certain kinds of medications. If the senior smokes, they will need to quit smoking for two weeks before the surgery to help reduce the risk of blood clots and breathing problems.
The Recovery Period.
Immediately after surgery, your aging relative will probably be in the intensive care unit (ICU) for around a day. You should expect them to be in the hospital for up to a week. During that time, the staff will watch for signs of infection. They will also keep a close eye on blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
Once they are released from the hospital, the older adult will gradually recover their energy and strength. At first, the incision site will be sore and red. They may feel tired, but have difficulty sleeping. The senior might not have much of an appetite either. However, all of this will get better as time goes on.
The breastbone, which is cut open during surgery, will take between 6 and 8 weeks to completely heal. However, overall recovery can take up to 3 months. The doctor may suggest a cardiac rehabilitation program. At the very least, they will recommend that the senior exercise regularly, starting slowly and gradually increasing exercise until they build up more stamina.
Elderly care can assist your family member during recovery from heart valve surgery. An elderly care provider can spend time at the senior’s home when they return from the hospital so that they do not have to be left alone when family caregivers are unavailable. Elderly care providers can also help them to exercise, walking with them and offering support if they feel weak.
If you or an aging loved one are considering elderly care in Skokie, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.
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