For the caregivers-
Post surgical Depression occurs in 32% of patients roughly. This is mostly related to lack of independence, body image, boredom and anxiety from their illness. Depression can cause a whole array of things but for the surgical patient it can impede their recovery causing many set backs. Studies have shown that depression related to surgery can inhibit bone growth, cause chest pain, pain in surgical areas, insomnia, nausea and vomiting, failure to get better, hair loss, lack of concentration and increased rate of infections.
Suggestions for the caregiver to prevent or flush out depression after surgery:
- Promote independence by offering the patient things they can help with around the house or even with their own care such as folding small amounts of laundry, cleaning small items as they sit or lay down, opening mail, writing out bills, reading to the kids or even small things like folding blankets in the morning or rearranging the throw pillows.
- As a caregiver do not complain about the extra amount of work you have because of the patients illness. The patient is aware their illness is causing problems in the household but reinforcing this issue over and over by complaining about things that have to be done or things the patient asks you to do causes a great depression in patients AND eventually they will refrain from basking for essential things that they need to prevent undue stress upon themselves and you. This will slow down the recovery process
- Ask the patient questions about their illness or surgery. This will provide you with greater understanding of what is going on with their bodies and give the patient an opportunity to voice concerns to you. You may even find out there are things that they don't understand about their surgery that you can answer for them
- Keep a list close by of things you come across and need to ask the doctor. Jot down things as they come up so as not to forgot when speaking with the doctor
- Upon leaving the patients area make sure they have everything close by- telephone, pen and paper, a snack and drink, any remotes for the television and anything else the patient may need. Please ask them!
- Provide the patient with as many encouraging words, hugs, kisses as you can. Touching can go along way in the patients recovery. If the patient goes days without any touching or encouragement from their caregiver or significant other they may experience a set back in their recovery.
- Don't leave them alone for hours at a time. There may be something they need that they can't get and won't ask until you come back to the room. They may not want to "bother" you and try and get something themselves further hurting themselves and making their recovery longer which isn't good for anyone involved.
- Ask if they want to get washed up every single day. If they go long periods of time without washing their bodies they will stink and they could get infections. Bring them water in a basin or even a bucket if you don't have a basin and encourage good hygiene. The patients appearance is a reflection on the caregiver. If they look dirty and disheveled you aren't doing your job. Which will be noticeable by others.
- At the end of each day check in with the patient and have an impromptu meeting letting them voice their concerns from the day and help them to get a plan for the next day. Keeping them involved in every aspect of their care will help them to get better a lot faster and feel that they are important to you.
Suggestions for the patient to aide in quicker recovery time and prevent depression after surgery
- Try and remain as independent as possible without hurting yourself-i.e. if you can change your own clothes do so, if you can make your own decision as to what you will wear,what you will eat and so on try and do that also
- Ask for things that you need to aide in your recovery-despite the way that people react to your requests it doesn't change the fact that you need to eat, wash up, take your medicines, get to the bathroom, even change the channel on the television so ask for what you need.
- Keep in touch with your caregivers as far as what they can do better to help and make things quicker and easier
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration and to help get stronger after surgery-very important. You have control of very little after surgery but what goes in your mouth is one of the things you do have control of
- Keep your incision area clean and dry and watch it for redness & drainage. If you get a fever call your doctor
- Most importantly keep your spirits up-surround yourself with things that make you happy try not to take anything out on the ones that are the closest to you and are helping you get well. Say plenty of thanks to those who get you what you need and if you feel yourself slipping into depression let someone know so that you can get the help you need.