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What do you need before surgery? Here are 17 ways to prepare your house in the days and weeks coming up to surgery.

Prep yourself before surgery with these 17 tips and you'll be another step closer to a successful recovery.

There are some questions you need to have answered before surgery. You might know the answers to some already, but others you might not have thought of. Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Karen Dwyer, sheds some light on things you may be curious about before surgery.


1. Set up a recovery area

relaxing chair area
Create a recovery area with all the necessities.

Find yourself a comfy recliner and other furniture like a side table. If it's got wheels, even better. Stock your recovery area with water, kleenex, a nice blanket, reading material, your TV remote and your phone charger.

2. Cook and meal prep before surgery

food prep
Stock your fridge with easy, pre-cooked meals - ideally, overflowing with healing foods.

Cook a few days before surgery. Store your tasty meals in serving-sized containers either in the fridge or freezer.


3. Use a meal planning service

tupperware lunch
No time for meal prep? Look into a healthy meal service.

Consider using a healthy meal service for a few days. There are lots of different options and many have deals for first-time customers.


4. Use the PeerWell Home Hazard scan

Using yoga and walking for back pain
Check your home for hazards. Did you know one of the most common causes of having to go back to the hospital is trips and slips?

Loose throw rugs, stray cables, lack of railings can all cause falls. We designed technology to help you identify all the potential fall hazards around your house. If you're a PeerWell Health patient, you can find it in your PreHab surgery program. Be sure to secure fall risks or make low-tech modifications to be safer at home. For example, consider adding night lights to dark areas.

5. Make your bathroom safer

Strong muscles for back pain
Make temporary modifications.

Post-surgery, the bathroom is one of the most dangerous areas in the home. How can you avoid unexpected falls and accidents? Think about adding a grab bar to the shower or getting a tub bench/shower chair. Easy to remove once you’re fully recovered, you can find toilet frames that have handles, which hook onto your toilet seat. Your occupational therapist is the best person to walk you through your specific bathroom set up, making it as safe as possible.

6. Have a support system in place

Is moving bad for back pain? Runner prepares
Know who you can depend on for different tasks.

Who do you know nearby who can help you do things? Don't be afraid to ask someone if they'll help you get your mail, walk your dog or check in every few days. It can feel like a big ask, but you might be surprised how eager and ready others are to help!

7. Sleep downstairs

Pregnant woman sitting with back pain
Stairs can be a hassle. Ready your downstairs space for sleep.

If you’re having lower body surgery, like a knee replacement or a meniscus repair, consider setting up a downstairs space for sleeping. Stairs can be a big challenge, especially during the first few days post surgery. Depending on the instructions from your care team, stairs might be off limits. Try to limit stair use as much as possible. Set up a nap station downstairs to help yourself avoid extra trips up the stairs.

8. Prioritize your kitchen gear and set it up on a counter

women stretching for back pain
Ready your kitchen.

Having to reach high or low in cabinets is responsible for many unnecessary falls, especially in post-surgical older people. There’s no need to be reaching or bending in the first few days after an operation.

Set up an area for all of your frequently-used items. Put everything in the kitchen that you use frequently on the countertop between waist and shoulder height in the fridge and cabinets. A couple of plates, bowls, utensils, and cups should be left out on the counter so that you can access these items without bending over.

Ask someone else to help you with dishes or loading the dishwasher.

9. Add chairs around the house

working and avoiding back pain
Choose sitting over standing.

Put chairs in places you go often. When you're brushing your teeth, getting dressed, and other things normally done standing, sit. Sitting conserves energy and minimizes the risk of falling or your knees buckling unexpectedly.

10. Ask someone to help with snow removal

sitting cause back pain
If you live in a cold place, this is essential.

Ask around or hire someone to handle snow removal for a few weeks while you're recovering. Ice and snow can be tricky and lead to unexpected slips, which can cause you to end up back at the hospital. Add grip strips for better gripping and rails to your outdoor set up to have something to hold onto.


11. Design yourself an easy wardrobe

meditation for back pain
Bras, buttons and shoelaces can all be a pain. 

Give yourself the gift of easy, loose-fitting clothing. Especially in the first few days after surgery, choose loose and easy to wear. Slip-on shoes with rubber grips can be very helpful and safer. For women, a sports bra or built-in bra is much easier to use following a shoulder or upper-body surgery. Loose pants and shirts make getting dressed and undressed simple.

12. Consider a smart doorbell

meditation for back pain
Extra tech could save you some troubles.  Consider a smart doorbell or similar technology. Smart locks can be used to talk to friends and delivery persons who ring the doorbell. It might be a delivery that doesn't need to be dealt with right away. Alternatively, it could be someone who needs to come inside, and then you can let them in remotely.

13. Think about your day-to-day plan

meditation for back pain
Pre-plan your days to help conserve energy and improve your mood. 

Your body requires extra energy to heal after a surgery, so making sure you are getting enough good fuel (food and water) into your body is key. It's also key to break up your self-care tasks and other daily activities to help avoid burnout. This is known as energy conservation and work simplification.

For example, if you have to shower, make sure you allow plenty of rest time before and after the shower in order to conserve energy. Placing tasks that demand a lot of energy together all in one day (ie. shower, make a meal, and go to the doctor, etc.) can lead to fatigue, and decreased safety and judgment.

Break up tasks throughout the day and do not plan for more than one high-energy task as a time.

14. Stock up on medications

meditation for back pain
Have them on hand before surgery.

Stock up on any medications, supplements etc. that you take on a daily basis. Doing it beforehand can save you the time of trying to replace them when you’re recovering.

15. Set alarms on your phone

meditation for back pain
Reminders are useful.

Set alarms on your phone. These can help you remember to take your medicine, go to appointments and even to do your stretches and exercises. You'd be surprised how the day can seem to get away from you when you're in recovery mode.

16. Practice your ReHab exercises and use your equipment

meditation for back pain
Know how to use your walker or sling. Understand your ReHab exercises.

Practice with the mobility device before surgery. Use the walker to go to the kitchen for a glass of water. Try walking into the bathroom with it. Can a walker fit through the doorway or do you have to turn sideways to get it through? What about going upstairs? Minimize surprise issues by practicing as much as you need and contact your PeerWell Health care team if you have any questions or need advice.

17. Follow your PreHab plan

meditation for back pain
Eat well. Do your exercises. Speak to your specialists. Recover more quickly.

Your PeerWell Health team is here as your PreHab specialists. Between your team and your program, you're on your way to being ultra-prepared for your surgery. Learn pro exercises, fueling your body, understanding precautions and home modifications from your Peerwell therapists.

Want more help before surgery?

Join the thousands getting better faster with a holistic, patient-first approach.

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