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Caring for Elderly Parents? 8 Tips To Help With Surgery!

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The Wright Stuff

When caring for elderly parents at home or long distance wheelchairs can become common

It’s been one of the heavy-duty Sandwich Generation big issues kind of years for us this year! On top of my toe fracture and the nearby grandkids having various and sundry illnesses, the long distance grandkids have been battling one cold after another. It’s not been all hard, of course. We were thrilled to welcome a brand new grandbaby into the long distance fold. It was a tough nine months but sweet grand-bambino is doing great and the darling of all his siblings, not to mention parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles…

One thing that was especially tough, particularly for my senior mom, was that she required surgery recently. It was “just” out-patient, so we were happy about that. But no surgery is ever easy, particularly for our aging parents, and this was no exception. We did make some good discoveries for future reference for ourselves and to share with you, though, so that was nice. As the old proverb goes, “every cloud has a silver lining. ” 🙂

1. For elderly parents, you might want to consider investing in one of the light transport / travel wheelchairs before the surgery. If they don’t need it, the wheelchair will probably still be useful eventually in your Sandwich Generation family. And if you do need it, you’ll be SOOO glad you have it. We already had the transport / travel wheelchair from my foot injury, and we did use it a couple of times for her. It was definitely a help! And now, it’s back in the garage, folded up neatly, waiting for the next time we need it.

Lightweight Medline Transport Travel Wheelchairs

2. My senior mom asked me to also pick up one of the lightweight walkers for seniors a couple of days before the surgery, just in case. I checked with Walmart and was delighted to find they had a great one in stock – online and off. We bought the Carex Explorer folding travel walker. It is very nice, easy to pop together, and reasonably priced, with wheels in the front, and even a great little carry bag she’s put to good use. The walker was WONDERFUL for helping her during the first two days especially! It continued to come in handy, off and on, for several days after, whenever she would feel too many twinges or a bit weak.

When caring for elderly parents - a foldable walker is very handy to keep on hand

3. Try to do these bigger purchases of a wheelchair and/or walker early on in the process and check with your insurance company to see if they might be covered as “durable medical equipment.” We didn’t know to do that with my father’s rollator walker, so we purchased it outright. Later we found out the insurance would have covered it! Ah well, our error can be a blessing for you. 🙂

4. It can also be wise to invest in a raised toilet seat unless you already have a tall toilet. It’s a lot easier when you’re not moving very well due to pain, stitches, etc. We didn’t think to get one of those, and she commented that for future, we would definitely be picking one up. I’ll probably get this Carex EZ lock raised toilet seat with adjustable and removable arms. It is supposed to work on all sizes and shapes of toilets and the lock makes it a bit more secure. 

5. If possible, call the doctor’s office and get a list of any medications or foods the doctor might require after the surgeryAnything you can do before the surgery is a WONDERFUL THING. It always surprises me when a medical office doesn’t think to tell us these things til AFTER the surgery, when you don’t want to leave the patient alone. Even if they say you probably don’t need anything, you might want to stock up on some chicken and beef broth and jello. These are always good staples to have on hand for the tummy flu, and they are also good for queasy stomachs after anesthesia.

6. If you don’t already have plenty, be sure to stock up on some of those wonderful hot and cold gel packs that can be frozen but stay soft OR go in the microwave to make a heat pack. We use these, off and on, all year long for a variety of things such as aches and pains for my senior mom after a day of gardening! But they’re not just good for seniors! My grandkids’ owww-ies have appreciated them as well.
7. Before the surgery, put big notes all around the house at every sink and on the fridge to help them remember  – nothing to eat or drink before the surgery, usually including medicine but not always – so do doublecheck that with your doctor. (And lest you think I’m practicing age-ism, I do that for myself now, after forgetting and taking an ibuprophen before a sigmoidoscopy a few years ago. They let me do it anyway, but I definitely learned my lesson. 🙂  )

When caring for elderly parents there are a lot more things to remember - so posting notes helps A LOT

8. And here’s an important tip for all of us baby boomers, who will be sitting in the waiting room. Make SURE you take cash with you. It’s not JUST for after hours either. Over the years of helping various relatives and friends, we’ve discovered that not all hospital cafeterias accept credit cards! Quarters are handy as well for the vending machines when it’s late. 

My senior mom is doing well, though still having a bit of pain. But many of these items have helped ease the process for her and we’re thrilled with that. If more thoughts crop up as she continues to convalesce, you know we’ll be sharing them with you. Also, if you have any pre or post-surgery suggestions, for any age, do share them with us in the comments. We’d love more tips and ideas for the Sandwich Generation issues of hospitalization! 

The Wright Stuff
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  1. These are such good ideas, Kaye. I am so glad your mom is doing well and I pray she will recover fully. Congratulations on your new grandson!

  2. Thanks Laurie, I so appreciate that! And thank you for the congrats – he’s a cutie just like his siblings and cousins! We’re really looking forward to some good cuddles 🙂 🙂 🙂

  3. I hope your mother continues t do well. When I took care of my mother and during the day had caregivers while I was at work. I kept a 3 ring binder in it I kept a list of phone numbers – Name phone number and who they were in relation to Mom. I kept a list of her medicine and vitamins. A section with current pictures and description. Copy of her insurance card. I also kept a pre-paid phone card to make long distant phone calls to relatives (this was before I had a cell phone). I had everyone keep a daily journal about Mom’s health and activities. It helped everyone know what was going on. I also had a list of things to watch for (symptoms) and what action to take. I also kept the time sheets in this binder. That way I knew they would know where the binder was and would be more apt to use it.

  4. WOW, Ruth, those are GREAT TIPS! Thank you for sharing them!!!! 🙂

  5. RT @Tweeners: Caring for Elderly Parents? 8 Tips To Help You When They Need …: But no surgery is ever easy, …

  6. Caring for Elderly Parents? 8 Tips To Help You When They Need Surgery!

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