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Single friends have asked me the question: “Can I stay at home alone after TKR?”
My answer is that it is possible but not advisable. I am sure there have been individuals who were able to rehab by themselves from day 1 but it is definitely the exception.
You might think you can recover on your own but it will be much easier and less stressful if you have a support system set up for recovery and rehabilitation.
If you are living alone and can call on a family member or a close friend to stay with you for the first week after TKR it will make it easier to go it alone after the first week.
The first few days are tough, but after a week you should be able to fend for yourself if you have prepared well before your surgery. Your age, health and fitness prior to your surgery will also determine if it is possible for you to recover on your own.
Staying Alone Is Definitely Possible, But Not Ideal
First off you will need help getting home from the hospital. You could call Uber or another ride share company. You will need assistance getting in and out of the car.
You will have been checked out by hospital staff with your walker at the hospital before your release so you will be able to get from the car to your home using the walker. You will be medicated but you still will feel pain and possibly be a little groggy.
If you are going it alone, you must have your house prepared ahead of time. Your home should be tidy and clean. You should have moved furniture to anticipate limited and unobstructed movement.
The things you need should be near and handy. Your meals should be prepared ahead of time. (See my prior article about preparing your home for TKR)
I was more mobile after surgery than I had expected. As each day went by, my mobility improved. It was certainly nice to have my wife assisting me and helping me with icing and other tasks.
I could have done most of the tasks myself but it would have taken more time and caused some additional pain.
There may be a few benefits of recovering on your own. If you have a busy and noisy household, the peace and quiet of being alone would be a plus.
By being alone, you would be forced to get up more and be more mobile which could speed up your recovery process.
4 (or more) Challenges Of Staying Alone After Knee Replacement
To recover at home by yourself, you will need to be a self-motivated person. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. The going will be tough!
In order to service yourself you will increase the amount of pain you will have. Getting up for everything yourself will cause more pain initially but the increased mobility may be good in the long term for you recovery.
You won’t have cheerleaders to encourage you if you are home alone. You will have nobody to share in your recovery process.
The phone will be helpful but it does not replace good old human contact.
Another consideration should be that if you experience complications or you have a fall you will be on your own. (Another reason to keep a phone on or near you at all times).
Tips For People Staying Alone After Knee Replacement Surgery
Preparing your house well before TKR is key to a successful and more comfortable recovery. Organize the space where you will be spending most of your time.
I suggest a recliner with a table and a good lamp nearby. Have a wedge pillow, medicines, ice machine, hiking poles and entertainment options nearby.
You will also need to have a night stand near your bed that is also organized and has the proper things within reach that will help give you a good night’s rest.
Prepare and freeze meals or buy frozen meals that are easy to prepare.
Download apps like Uber and food delivery services.
Inform your neighbors so that they can check on you, get your mail and paper, take out your trash. Ask them to walk a pet if necessary.
Set up in home physical therapy and arrange for a driver if needed for off site physical therapy when in home therapy ends.
Although you will be happy to be home, you will be hurting and you will not be in the best of moods. You won’t have nurses available 24 hours a day like you did during your short stay in the hospital.
Good planning before your surgery is crucial whether or not you have someone at home waiting to help you.
Have your house in order, prepare ahead of time. Make a checklist before going to the hospital (see my checklist in a prior article). Be positive and patient.
Keep your focus on improving and long term recovery and try not to focus on the moment. You can go it alone, but if you have anyone that you can call on for help, your recovery will be easier and more comfortable.