Plan for home-care after surgery with medical alert system

Bryan Aldrige

November 23, 2010

Many older adults who arrive back home after surgery often find tasks much more difficult than before. Whether this is a permanent or temporary situation, The New York Times suggests that it can be wise for individuals to properly plan for these circumstances.

Anne Brumbaugh, 65, knows this from firsthand experience. In addition to two operations on her foot, she also underwent a bone graft, according to The New York Times. These surgeries left her in her Manhattan home for weeks on end.

Many insurance providers will cover the expenses of in-home care for the first period of recovery, but then patients are on their own.

"There's a big misconception about what home health care is and what services are covered by insurance," Heather McKenzie, senior director of clinical education and quality initiatives for the Visiting Nurse Associations of America, told the news provider. "Most people think all home services will be covered on a long-term basis."

That's why preparing for recovery is one of the most important things a patient can do, particularly older adults who are living on their own. Discuss with a doctor how long the rehabilitation process will take and ask what kind of services may be required during that time.

If a family member is present during or after the operation, have him or her talk with physicians about the recovery period. This can help expedite the process and be very helpful to older adults who don't feel like engaging with doctors right after surgery.

However, a patient will be the best judge of how to recover. Many may have to purchase a walker or wheelchair to help with mobility. In-home nursing aides should also be considered, because insurers will cover skilled care providers for some time.

In other situations, family caregivers can help those with the recovery process, especially if it is only for several weeks. This can be a much more affordable alternative.

To supplement any care, patients may also want to plan for recuperation by installing a medical alert system in their home. This device can be programmed with the specific times of day that prescriptions need to be dispensed. That will eliminate the need to worry about each dose and, more importantly, guarantee that patients will feel healthy again as quickly as possible.

This system also acts as a safety precaution. If medication isn't taken on time, a medical alert will be sent to caregivers or doctors, notifying them of the situation.

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