• Search All Services
  • select
  • Search Total Joint Center

Information for Caregivers (Total Knee, Total Hip)
Contact this department
Open a printer-friendly version of this page to print
Email this page to a friend

At St. Elizabeth Healthcare, we recognize that family members play a vital role in assisting their loved ones in the recovery process. This information is being provided to assist both patient and caregiver in a smooth transition from hospital care to home.

In the Hospital
While your family member is still in the hospital,

  • Remind them to do their breathing exercises, ankle pumps, coughs and deep breaths.
  • If possible, attend a therapy session with them to learn the exercises as well.
  • Do not allow them to get up without assistance. Always have a staff member assist them with getting out of bed and walking.
  • Please do not hesitate to ask questions or voice concerns.

Leaving the Hospital
It is the responsibility of the patient/family to provide transportation from the hospital to home/rehab. Your family member should be safe to travel by private car upon discharge.

Your family member will have prescriptions for pain medication and a blood thinner. These should be filled immediately upon discharge, unless a rehab stay is scheduled. Rehab facilities will provide your family member with the medications needed.

If your family member is recovering at home, they may need some equipment, including:

  • Assistive device.
  • Continuous Passive Motion Machine (CPM) – knee.
  • Ice packs.
  • Hand-held breathing device.
  • Pillows for elevation.

If your family member has been discharged to a facility, the facility should provide them with the necessary equipment.

At Home

  • Make sure your family member has adequate room to move around their home and are aware of their surroundings.
  • Remember that bathrooms are the number one spot for home accidents, so take special care when showering.


  • Your family member will need assistance with things such as meals, showering and dressing while using an assistive device.
  • They should not need assistance to get up and down or move around the house.
  • Do not apply anything to the incision area.

Things to Watch For
Contact your physician if your family member:

  • Experiences any changes in the appearance of the incision area.
  • Runs a fever of over 101° F.
  • Complains of chest pain/shortness of breath.
  • Sustains any type of injury to the surgical limb.


  • If beginning outpatient therapy, your family member should make the appointment themselves as to ensure it is at a convenient time. Please encourage your family member to maintain a balance between rest and exercise.
  • If your family member has had knee surgery and was discharged to home, the CPM should be used three times a day for two hours at a time.
  • Swelling will cause additional pain, so it is very important to assist your family member in elevating their extremity. The extremity should be on three pillows and ice should be applied. Have them remain in this position for 20-30 minutes several times per day.

Emotional Support

  • One of the most important things you can do for your family member is to provide support throughout their recovery period.
  • Although your family member may be experiencing pain, it is important that you encourage them to continue with their daily exercise routine and therapy.

Back to top...

St. Elizabeth Campus Locations

Learn more about the benefits of a dissolving stent.
   © 2016 St. Elizabeth Healthcare. All rights reserved.
St. Elizabeth Healthcare