9 Ways to Help Someone Prepare for Surgery

If you're caring for someone who is about to have surgery, you might feel nervous, or overwhelmed, or like you have a lot of responsibility. Yes, it can be stressful. But there are things you can do to make the experience go as smoothly as possible.

Before the surgery

  • Be considerate. Talk with the person you're caring for about how they would like you to help. Some people may want someone with them every step of the way. But others may want to go to appointments alone, or ask the doctor some questions privately. Be sure to know and respect their preferences.

  • Be present. Offer to go to appointments when you can. And offer to help prepare questions to ask the doctor. It helps to write down the answers so you can remember them later.

  • Be knowledgeable. Help the person you're caring for follow any special instructions or restrictions before the surgery. These are things like instructions for when to stop eating and what medicines should be taken or stopped.

  • Be prepared. Bring test results, medicine lists, and identification with you to the hospital. And put together a bag for the person for their hospital stay. Clothes, books, reading glasses, and electronic tablets are some things that might go in the bag.

During the hospital stay

  • Ask questions when you have them, and write down the answers. And keep track of important pieces of information from the care team.

  • Advocate for the person you're caring for. Help them communicate their needs to the care team. And if you have concerns, share them with the care team.

Getting ready to go home

  • Understand the discharge instructions. Ask questions about what you and the person you're caring for should expect during recovery. Ask how long recovery may take.

  • Prepare the home. Get any medical equipment or supplies you may need. If the person you're caring for will be on a special diet, shop for the types of things they can eat. And prepare a room for them that will be comfortable and safe while they recover.

  • Plan for getting home. If you're going by car, think about how the person you're caring for will get in and out of it. If you think you may need help getting them in and out of the car (or on and off the bus or train), bring someone along who can help.