Considering Joint Surgery While Living Alone (2023)

If your chronic joint pain hasn't responded to conservative treatments like physical therapy or medication, you may be thinking about, or actively preparing for, joint replacement surgery. Decidingto undergo a joint surgery, like a hip or knee replacement, is a big decision… especially if you live alone.

If you live by yourself, it's normal to have lots ofquestions before your operation.How will you stay safe? How will you keep up with household chores and meals? How will you get to follow-up visits and physical therapy appointments?

These questions can quickly become overwhelming. To help you sort through your questions and concerns, here are five things to consider as you prepare.

1. Become a well-informed patient.

Don't be shy about asking questions. Ask whatever clarifying questions you have to your medical team,including yoursurgeon, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and pharmacist. Write down your concernsahead of time and jot down the answers. Also, ask for written education such as pamphlets and booklets and review them thoroughly.

The more you know about your surgery and what to expect, the better equipped you'll be to advocate for yourself and handle the recovery period with confidence.

(Video) How I stopped emotional eating | Mel Robbins

Questions to Ask When Considering Knee Replacement Surgery

Questions to Ask When Considering Hip Replacement Surgery

Questions To Ask When Considering Total Ankle Replacement Surgery

(Video) Living & Dying Alone: The Rise Of Single-Person Households Is Changing Societies | CNA Correspondent

Questions To Ask When Considering Shoulder Replacement Surgery

Questions To Ask When Considering Elbow Replacement Surgery

See what's possible for you

(Video) Recovering at Home After Total Shoulder Replacement Surgery

2. Get your home recovery ready.

Movement is important during recovery after knee or hip replacement surgery, but you want to avoid over-exerting yourself or putting yourself at risk for falls. If you can, consider making temporary changes to your home ahead of time to make it easier and more efficient for you to negotiate your surroundings as you regain your strength and mobility. Here are a few ideas:

  • Install railings on all yourstairways.
  • Reduce tripping hazards: clear away clutter, removethrow rugs, ensure your hallways and rooms are well-lit, move electrical cords or secure them to the floor with wide masking tape, and make sure there's plenty of space to use whatever assistive device is prescribed to you following your operation.
  • Store a list of emergency phone numbers and medical information somewhere handy.
  • Install grab bars, non-slip mats, toilet risers,tub benches or shower chairs in your bathroom (note: insurance may cover some of these items).
  • Consider getting a commode to put next to your bed to make late-night bathroom trips safer.
  • Buy extra cell phone chargers and place one in every room youspend the most time in.
  • Plan a few days' to a weeks’ worth of outfits and leave them in an accessible area.
  • If you'll be usingice packs to managepain, consider placing a mini-fridge next to your bed or favorite lounge chair for easieraccess.
  • If your bedroom is on the second floor, consider setting up atemporary bedroom on the first floor until you feel more confident negotiating your stairs.

For more of these ideas, check out Preparing for Joint Replacement Surgery.

3. Prepare your meals ahead of time.

After your surgery, it's important to stay well-hydrated and eat nutritious foods to help you heal.To reduce the amount of time you'll have to spend cooking—and to avoid relying solely on unhealthy and expensive options like frozen packaged meals or pricey takeout—bulk cook some meals ahead of time and freeze them.

You can also explore otheroptions like:

  • Grocery delivery (hint: a lot of pharmacies deliver medications, too!).
  • Online food delivery services like Take Them aMeal,GrubHub,PostMates, orMeals on Wheels.
  • Meal trains through your local church or loved ones (websites like Meal Train make it easy for friends and family to organize).

4. Ask for some back-up support.

Even if you live alone, there are many people you can lean on during your recovery period. For instance:

  • Talk to friends and family members about getting help with things like rides to follow-up appointments or trips to the pharmacy.
  • Perhaps a close friend or family member would be willing to stay with you for a couple days.
  • Ask a neighbor if they’d be willing to check in on you each day.
  • Look into temporary housekeeping services.
  • Talk to your health insurance—they may be able to set you up with a case manager who can help you handle the many aspects of your rehabilitation period.
  • Look into local senior organizations in your area. Many provide discounted rides, companionship visits, and other services that can ease your stress and make it easier for you to focus on your recovery.

The trick is to arrange additional support as soon as you can—even before surgery if possible.The earlier you can explore these options, the easier it will be to take advantage of them after your surgery.

Want more content like this? Sign up for our newsletter

5. Consider alternate options.

(Video) Michael Ast: A Trend to Watch: The Migration of Total Joint Replacement to Outpatient Surgery

In some cases,you, your family, and medical team may decide thatmore involved care during your initial recovery wouldbe best for your well-being.

For example, home health services or a short stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility may be appropriate:

  • Depending on the type, and invasiveness, of your surgery.
  • If you have additional chronic health conditions.
  • If you experience acomplication with your surgery.
  • If you have an inaccessible home environment that you're not physically ready tomanage, such as multiple steps to enter your house.

In situations like these, more involved care can be an essential stepping-stonethat might help you avoid certain complications during your initial recovery.So ifthis applies to you, be patientand remember thatyour successandyour safety are top priorities.

Life’s too short to live in pain. If you've exhausted conservative treatments, it may be time to talk to your doctor about joint replacement surgery. The good news is thatmodern dayjoint replacement surgery is generally considered an effective treatment to ease the pain and dysfunction caused by osteoarthritis; however, you should know that it does come with a variety of risks as well.Make sure you have a clear understanding of the risks involved with your procedure. Your doctor can explain all the risks associated with your surgery. You can also read more about them by clicking one of these links: What Are the Risks of Knee Replacement Surgery,What Are the Risks of Hip Replacement Surgery,What Are the Risks of Shoulder Replacement Surgery,What Are the Risks of Total Ankle Replacement Surgery, and What Are the Risks of Elbow Replacement Surgery.

Even if you live alone, you can have a successful recovery period. But, never be shy to ask for help.

Please let us know how useful this article was to you

Thank you for rating this article.

  1. Svensson, P., et al. (2011).Referred Muscle Pain: Basic and Clinical Findings.The Clinical Journal of Pain. 17: 11-19.
Christa S. Plew, MBA Author Zimmer Biomet Employee

Here at ReadyPatient, Christa combines her expertise in writing with her passion for helping people by developing engaging content all designed to support you along your journey. Learn more about her here.

(Video) Proximal Humerus Fractures: Fix it, Replace it or Leave it alone

More by Christa S. Plew, MBA:

  • Swimming: A Great Exercise for Every Age and Fitness Level
  • Common recovery exercises after hip and knee replacements
  • When to Discuss Knee Pain with Your Doctor
  • Understanding Your Loved One’s Joint Pain


Can you go home after knee replacement surgery if you live alone? ›

Most patients, even if they live alone, can safely go directly home from the hospital after hip or knee replacement surgery, according to a recent study.

Do you need someone to stay with you after surgery? ›

If you don't stay overnight, you will need someone to take you home because you won't be able to drive or take public transportation by yourself. It's best to have someone with you for at least the first 24 hours after general anesthesia.

Under which circumstances should a patient consider joint replacement surgery? ›

If knee pain affects working, socializing, sleeping, maintaining good hygiene, or other daily activities, then it may be time to consider knee replacement surgery. People who live active lives may be more affected by knee pain and decide to have knee replacement surgery sooner.

Do I need someone to stay with me after knee replacement surgery? ›

It is our recommendation that someone be with you the first 24-72 hours after discharge. Many patients do live alone and we realize this is not always possible. But if you have a relative or a friend who offers to stay with you, take this offer for your own peace of mind.

How long do you need a caregiver after knee replacement surgery? ›

The person you're caring for will probably need daily care from you or someone else every day at the start, but after a few weeks, they will need less and less assistance. It can take up to 3 months for them to return to their usual activities and 6 months to recover usual strength in the knee.

What to do when you have no one to pick you up from surgery? ›

Ask if the patient might have a neighbor or religious organization that would assist, she says. "Lots of churches have people on call to help with rides," Ogg says. "They might also be able to stay overnight as a caregiver." A private duty nurse might be another option, she adds.

Can I go to the bathroom by myself after hip surgery? ›

You should also be able to use the toilet without much help. You will need to be careful that you do not dislocate your artificial hip, especially in the first few months after surgery. You will need to learn exercises that make your new hip stronger and take special precautions.

What surgeries have the most painful recovery? ›

  • Overview. Many medical procedures involve a degree of discomfort and, in some cases, pain. ...
  • Gallbladder removal (cholecystectomy) There are two types of cholecystectomy: ...
  • Liposuction. ...
  • Bone marrow donation. ...
  • Dental implants. ...
  • Total hip replacement. ...
  • (Open) Abdominal hysterectomy. ...
  • Tips for recovery.

What happens if you don't have someone to take you home after surgery? ›

Talk to the hospital, every one will have a social services department. They will be able to give you your options. If you don't have an adult that can provide you with support after your same day surgery, then you can't go home in any case. The hospital will help you find an appropriate solution.

Do surgeons talk to family after surgery? ›

You may wake up with a dressing, an IV, oxygen, or other monitors and tubes. Your surgeon will talk with your family when your surgery is over. If you are an outpatient (returning home the same day as surgery), you will be taken to the recovery area.

Do you need a knee replacement if you are bone on bone? ›

As knee arthritis progresses, the knee becomes much looser and more unstable. In some cases, this is mild. In other cases, it is substantial enough that cause the patient to fall. Patients who have bone-on-bone arthritis and are starting to fall because of it should strongly consider surgery.

What is the most common condition leading to joint replacement surgery? ›

The most common cause of joint replacement is arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteonecrosis, and post-traumatic arthritis are the most common forms of this disease.

What is a major complication of joint surgery? ›

Some of the more common complications of joint replacement surgery include infection, blood clots, nerve injury, and prosthesis problems like loosening or dislocation.

What to do if you think you need surgery? ›

If the situation is not an emergency and it is during regular office hours, visiting your primary care doctor is the best option. Your doctor knows you, your medical history, and what medications you take. Having an existing relationship with the doctor may also make it easier for them to fit you in quickly.

What is surgery called when you don't stay in the hospital? ›

Outpatient surgery, also called same-day, ambulatory, or office-based surgery, provides patients with the convenience and comfort of recovering at home, and can cost less.

Should I stay home before surgery? ›


It is important that you are protected from any possible exposure to COVID-19 before surgery. You should quarantine yourself and your hospital visitor prior to your scheduled procedure. Make sure you perform good handwashing and avoid any person who is ill or is not quarantined.

Can surgeons treat their own family? ›

In general, physicians should not treat themselves or members of their own families. However, it may be acceptable to do so in limited circumstances: In emergency settings or isolated settings where there is no other qualified physician available.


1. Over 45 and considering LASIK, Lens replacement or Cataract surgery? ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW.
(Shannon Wong, MD)
2. Living with Limb Loss: What Amputees Can Expect During the First Six Months Post-Surgery
3. Kenmore Mercy Hospital - Knee & Hip Education - #5 - Preparing your home for discharge
(Catholic Health)
4. Save Your Marriage While Separated: Do This!
(Marriage Helper)
5. What To Do At Home After Total Knee Replacement
(Talking With Docs)
6. How to Use the Toilet after Shoulder Replacement | Rotator Cuff Repair, Labral Tear, Surgery, Injury
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Dan Stracke

Last Updated: 04/01/2023

Views: 6459

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (63 voted)

Reviews: 86% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dan Stracke

Birthday: 1992-08-25

Address: 2253 Brown Springs, East Alla, OH 38634-0309

Phone: +398735162064

Job: Investor Government Associate

Hobby: Shopping, LARPing, Scrapbooking, Surfing, Slacklining, Dance, Glassblowing

Introduction: My name is Dan Stracke, I am a homely, gleaming, glamorous, inquisitive, homely, gorgeous, light person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.