The Southeastern Spine Institute

Helping a family member or friend through back surgery recovery can be an exhausting yet fulfilling feat. But you have to keep a healthy balance between delivering the best care to someone after surgery and not overworking yourself. Caring for yourself as much as you care for your loved one creates the best environment for everyone.

As an unpaid, non-professional caregiver, your primary role is making sure that the recovering person follows the doctor’s requests and recommendations. That often means alternating periods of rest and exercise, followed by providing companionship and ensuring a safe home environment.

Providing a Safe Home Environment

During a person’s back surgery recovery at home, the worst thing that can happen is a fall or other accident. You must maintain clear pathways with adequate space for your patient to walk, perhaps with a walker at first, followed by crutches or a cane. As the primary caregiver, your doctor at the Southeaster Spine Institute (SSI) gives you instructions and recommendations that may include:

  • Getting the recovering person non-slip socks and shoes
  • Ridding the house of potential hazards, including low furniture and clutter around the house
  • Installing a raised toilet seat
  • Placing slide-resistant rugs over tile floors in the bathrooms, kitchens and elsewhere
  • Keeping pets from getting underfoot, even if they have to temporarily leave the house

The majority of the safety precautions during back surgery recovery involve keeping your friend or loved one safe. Healing from back surgery doesn’t take as long as it used to, thanks to minimally invasive procedures, but the first week recuperating at home is the most dangerous, since back muscles are still weak.

Giving a Helping Hand

For the most part, providing help to a friend or family member after surgery means doing those simple things that your charge can’t do while healing. At first, you may need to do everything from cooking and serving meals to caring for pets or children and running errands. Even simple tasks like doing some light cleaning can help the patient concentrate on getting better.

Providing a positive atmosphere is another vital role for you. An encouraging attitude helps everyone’s mental health and shortens the recovery time. You’d be surprised at the healing power of a smile. Naming yourself the caregiver carries a lot of responsibilities, so be sure you have the availability and mental capacity to perform the job as well as possible. And maintain your own personal downtime, perhaps calling in reinforcements when you need a break.

Responsibilities of the Caregiver

A nutritious diet helps the body grow stronger. Whether you cook or order in, make sure the food reflects a balanced diet. Companionship aids back surgery recovery, too; it takes a person’s mind off any discomfort and makes the time pass more quickly. Also, have other distractions ready, such as movies, games, reading and music. Finally, if your SSI physical therapist gave you the preferred exercise schedule, you can get your friend or loved one up and walking around.

Make sure you and the person you’re caring for understand your responsibilities before you start. You’re there to provide support, not to be a gopher. Whether it’s light housework or driving to follow-up doctor appointments, you’re likely doing it out of love. When you recognize your boundaries and help your charge get stronger, the back surgery recovery goes smoother and you both feel better all the way around!