Tips and resources to help you throughout your caregiving journey

Planning for surgery

When you first heard that your mom or dad required surgery, there were probably a number of thoughts that ran through your mind. It is completely normal to have some nervousness and some worry attached to a pending surgery. There is always some uncertainty. Also, the waiting period prior to the surgery is typically the most challenging time and very emotional for all involved.

When undergoing surgery, it can help to be prepared, know what you can control what you can’t control, and be aware of the process a typical patient goes through in the hospital.

Here are some tips to help plan for the day of the surgery:

  • Timing:  Write down the location, date, and time of the surgery once it has been confirmed. Write down the time that you are expected to arrive at the hospital on the day of the surgery and monitor the weather forecast so that you can make appropriate arrangements to arrive on time.
  • Notes: Make detailed notes about the eating and drinking restrictions that must be followed prior to the surgery. Consult with the health care professional who provides the details about these restrictions if you have any questions or concerns about these restrictions.
  • Parking:  If you are driving to the hospital, be sure to note whether to bring the parking ticket into the hospital with you or leave it visible on the dashboard of the vehicle. Each hospital has a different parking payment system.
  • Snacks:  You will be instructed about where to wait for the duration of the surgery. Be sure to eat throughout the day and take care of your own needs.

After arriving at the hospital, ask a volunteer or staff member for directions to the surgical registration area (or wherever you have been instructed to go on the day of the surgery).

Your mom or dad will be given an identification bracelet to wear. They will be asked to verify the information on the bracelet for accuracy. It is very important that this information is correct as it will be used for identification purposes throughout the hospital stay.

Time seems to slow down when you are waiting while someone is in surgery and/or recovery room. The waiting time can feel like an eternity. Bring distractions such as books, magazines (these are not as available in hospital waiting rooms as they used to be!), crossword puzzles, knitting—whatever can distract you as you wait for updates about the person you are caring for. This is one time we can praise the distractions available with a cell phone!

When the surgery is complete, the person will be taken to the recovery room. Once they become more alert and awake, you will be notified by a staff member in the designated surgical waiting area and additional details will be provided about the next steps and what to expect.

*Please note that the sequence of events may vary depending on the circumstances and the hospital.

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