Preparing for surgery if you are frail
Some medical conditions or being elderly can cause you to be frail. It is important to be mindful of how you use your energy and manage stress after surgery when you are frail.
The questionnaire you have filled out for the Pre-Assessment Clinic will help us identify if you are frail. Below are some ideas and tips on how you can prepare your body and your home to make your surgical recovery easier.
Get yourself ready
It is important for you to be in the best possible condition for your surgery. This will help you recover faster and decrease the chances of any problems. The recommendations below are things you can do to help prepare yourself for surgery.
Prior to your surgery, you will be contacted by a physiotherapist to start you on an exercise and muscle-strengthening program. If you want to get started right away, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise plan.
Exercise helps you be in the best shape possible before your surgery and can help speed up your recovery. You do not need to join a gym. Getting up and going for a walk each day is good exercise.
Do deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing opens up your lungs, exercises the lung muscles and improves oxygen delivery to your body. Do these deep breathing exercises every hour while you are awake.
- Place your hands on your ribs
- Take a deep breath slowly through your nose, expanding your lower chest until you feel your ribs push against your hands
- Hold your breath for a count of 3
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth
- Repeat 5 more times
Eat a healthy balanced diet
Food plays an important role in helping you heal. Eating enough calories, protein, vitamins and minerals can help you get better faster. Before your surgery, eat a healthy balanced diet to better prepare you for the procedure and your recovery. It is important to eat enough so your body has the right material to build tissue, minimize muscle loss, and help you fight infections.
If you are losing weight, you are likely not getting enough calories. This means that the food you are eating is fueling your body instead of helping you recover.
How to improve your nutritional status before surgery
- Make the most of each bite by choosing high-protein, nutrient-rich foods. For example: chicken, beef, pork, tofu, fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, milk
- Try to eat at least 3 meals and 1 snack each day to help meet your calorie and protein needs
- Try items like protein bars, nut butter on toast, hummus and crackers or trail mix for quick and easy snacks
- Choose fresh, frozen or canned fruits. They are a good source of vitamins and minerals
- Limit foods like pop, potato chips and chocolate bars. They are low in nutrients needed for healing
- Discuss with your doctor to see if you should take a multivitamin and mineral tablet
A dietitian can help you choose healthy foods that will help prepare you for surgery. If you have had unexplained weight loss in the past 6 weeks and a decrease in appetite, it may be helpful to speak with a dietitian. You can get a referral to a dietitian from your family doctor or if you have questions about your diet, contact HealthLinkBC by dialing *8-1-1 on your phone and ask to speak to a dietitian (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday to Friday).
It is very normal to feel anxious before surgery. We also know that stress increases the release of hormones that can delay healing and recovery. Geting moving, practicing breathing exercises and dedicating time to positive things can help improve your outcomes after surgery.
Planning now for when you go home
How long you stay in the hospital varies with each person depending on the type of surgery you are having and your health. When you are ready to go home, ask for your ride to pick you up at 10:00 a.m. in the morning. Before you come to the hospital, think about what you will need when you go home (or wherever you will be staying). Get things ready in advance so they are ready when you leave the hospital. You will need help with meals, laundry, bathing, etc. for the first week or so. Try and arrange for family and friends to help you. If you need help with wound or other care, this will be discussed before you leave the hospital.
Some things to organize and to prepare for a successful recovery:
- Where will you be going after you leave the hospital? Will you go home or stay with family or friends for a while?
- Who will drive you home from the hospital?
- Shop for extra food that is easy to store and prepare.
- Prepare and freeze meals ahead of time so all you have to do is microwave or reheat
What you can do to improve your health before surgery
- Meet with your family or clinic doctor, physiotherapist, kinesiologist, dietitian or other health-care provider to create a plan
- Have a ‘goals of care’ discussion with a health-care worker
- Have a health-care provider review your current medications