Surgery Recovery Tips to Get You Home Faster

If you’ve recently had surgery or are preparing for one, it’s best to have a plan in place for your recovery. You’ll want to talk to your physician about what you can expect after surgery and if you’ll require rehabilitation services to get you back on your feet. But what else can you do to help speed up the recovery process?

In this blog, learn our top five surgery recovery tips to help get you home faster.

Top 5 Surgery Recovery Tips

There are several things you can do following surgery to help you heal faster. Most of the following tips can be applied to many different types of procedures, but it’s important to contact your physician for specific guidance to your situation.

1.   Follow Your Discharge Instructions From the Hospital

Following your discharge instructions is a crucial step in the recovery process. Set aside time to review them thoroughly and contact your physician or surgeon if you have any questions.

Understanding what to expect as you heal and what activities you can or can’t do will get you started on the right path. The last thing you want to do is attempt something your body isn’t ready to do, resulting in a setback or an injury.

Here’s some of the information you might find in your discharge forms:

  • Activity level (lifting, weight-bearing exercises, driving, etc.)
  • Dietary notes and restrictions
  • Therapy orders
  • Wound care details
  • Prescriptions
  • Side effects and complications
  • Mental health awareness
  • Contact information for your care team


2.   Set Aside Time to Rest


A common mistake people make after surgery is over-exerting themselves and trying to do too much too quickly. Sometimes pain medication can make it difficult to assess how your body handles activity. When it’s difficult to listen to your body, remember to refer to your discharge instructions for recommended activity levels.

Try to follow your surgeon’s guidance to ensure you have plenty of time to rest and heal, reducing your risk of complications or injuries. If unsure what to do, ask questions and share concerns with your physician’s office.

If your recovery process prevents you from performing routine activities of daily living on your own, consider an inpatient rehabilitation stay at a center near you. You’ll receive therapy services, enjoy meals and also reap the benefits of amenities like housekeeping and laundry services, activity programming and additional nursing care.


Related: Choosing the Right Rehab Center ____________________________________________________________________

3.   Keep Your Appointments

Keep Appointments

It’s likely that you’ll have follow-up appointments after surgery, and you may also have therapy sessions. It’s essential that you go to all of your appointments so your care team can monitor your recovery. Your physician can watch for signs of infection, evaluate your healing and provide additional instructions.

Appointments are also an ideal time for you to ask questions and share concerns. Make sure you write these down ahead of time, so you’re prepared and less likely to forget anything.

If you are participating in rehabilitation such as physical or occupational therapy, it’s important to go to each scheduled session to stay on track with your discharge plan. Your therapy team is another great resource to turn to for questions on activity level and healing time.

4.   Eat Nutritious Meals and Stay Hydrated

Nutritious Meals

You’ll want to drink plenty of water and choose healthy foods rich in vitamins, nutrients and protein to give your body the energy it needs to recover fully. Be mindful of your care team’s dietary recommendations and restrictions.

If you’re experiencing nausea or have other concerns about your diet, reach out to your physician promptly. Dehydration can happen quickly and may sometimes result in hospitalization or other complications.


Related: Post-Rehab Recipes You’ll Love ____________________________________________________________________

5.   Care for Your Incision

Caring for your incision correctly is crucial in reducing the risk of infection. Follow your discharge instructions on how to properly care for your incision and know the signs of infection. Call your physician’s office immediately if you notice the area is pink, red or has unusual drainage.

You’ll also likely receive guidance on how to keep the area clean and how often to change the dressing. Always wash your hands thoroughly before coming in contact with your wound. You may be restricted to taking baths instead of showers — or you may have to keep the incision dry for a set period of time.


Looking for a Rehabilitation Center Near You?

Are you looking for a rehabilitation center for your post-surgery care needs? Optalis Health and Rehabilitation offers seven locations in the Columbus area. We specialize in post-hospital inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation. And we have pre-surgery reservations so you can reserve your room ahead of time and know what to expect in your recovery process.





Post-Hospital Rehab Insurance Questions

Dear Meredith,

My father was recently hospitalized for a broken hip. Dad’s doctor told us he’d need post-hospital rehab to help him get back on his feet following his stay.

Now we’re trying to figure out how (or even if) the rehab will be covered by his insurance, but it’s been really confusing trying to sort through what’s covered and what’s not. Can you give me any info on how insurance works for rehabilitation after a hospital stay?

-Bill from Columbus, OH

Dear Bill,

Don’t worry — you aren’t the only one left with lots of questions about post-hospital rehabilitation and insurance.

In fact, we get questions about insurance all the time. To help you out, I’ve gathered some of the most common post-hospital rehabilitation insurance coverage questions and answered them below.

Just a quick note—you didn’t mention whether your dad has private insurance or Medicare, so I’ll make sure I touch on both.


Meredith Dornburgh

Director of Admissions and Marketing, New Albany


Related: Choosing the Right Rehab Center


Q: How much therapy will my parent receive after a hospital stay, and will insurance cover it?

A: How much therapy your parent receives depends on their needs. Typically, someone who needs therapy following surgery or hospital stay will get about five days a week of therapy covered by their insurance, with about an hour a day for each necessary discipline (physical, occupational and speech therapy).

Regarding what insurance will cover, each plan is different — some might only cover 30 minutes instead of a full hour in a certain discipline. But generally, 30-60 minutes per discipline five times a week is typical for inpatient post-hospital rehabilitation.

It’s also important to note that how much therapy someone receives can depend on their insurance plan, which leads me to the next question we get a lot.

Q: What services does my parent’s insurance cover during post-hospital care?

A: Again, this depends on the insurance plan. But insurance typically covers therapy, nursing services, meals and activities.

The only thing that might not be included is a physician or specialist visit. However, most people can bill these services to another portion of their insurance.

For example, many who receive rehabilitation services at an Optalis community have either Medicare Part A, Part B or a Medicare replacement plan. Medicare Part A would cover therapy and services, while Medicare Part B would cover physician visits.


Related: Ask the Expert: How Much Does Post-Surgery Rehab Cost?


Q: How long will insurance cover my loved one’s stay in inpatient rehabilitation?

A: This can vary depending on your insurance. Most Medicare plans cover up to 100 days of rehab and skilled nursing, given that you meet the guidelines.

Commercial insurance plans are more variable — some have shorter benefit periods than Medicare. For specific timelines, contact an Optalis community today. We can help you by contacting your insurance provider and obtaining the necessary information.

Q: How long will my parent need rehabilitation?

A: This ties into the above question. Just because many insurances offer coverage for 100 days, this doesn’t mean 100 days will be necessary.

Insurance will only cover rehabilitation for as long as someone needs it. You may wonder — “how is that determined?”

Typically, that is determined by updated progress reports sent to the insurance company from the rehab center. The insurance company then reviews the reports and issues what’s known as a “last cover day.”

Trained doctors and nurses work at the insurance companies to determine these dates. But, you do have an appeal option that we can help you with if you disagree with the assessment.

Q: What will my loved one have to pay out of pocket?

A: Most insurance plans do have some sort of daily copay. Usually, those copays start after around 21 days for Medicare or Medicare replacement plans. However, that may start sooner for commercial plans.

Q: Can my parent come from home, or do they need a hospital stay before the insurance covers rehab?

A: Medicare does require a three-night, inpatient hospital stay before becoming eligible for rehab coverage. By contrast, commercial insurance or Medicare replacement plans typically do not require a hospital stay. However, they do require prior authorization.

At Optalis, we can take care of the prior authorization as long as we have the necessary medical information. It’s not uncommon for people to come into rehab from home because sometimes people return home from the hospital too soon.

That actually brings up something else I wanted to address — as mentioned above, Medicare does require a three-night, inpatient hospital stay. However, if someone goes home after such a hospital stay and decides they came home too soon, rehab can be covered by Medicare as long as they’re within 30 days of their qualifying stay.

However, don’t wait too long. The more time that passes from the stay, the more difficult it can be to acquire the necessary information from the hospital.

Q: I’ve heard people mention managed care insurance benefits before. What is that?

A: Managed care insurance benefits are a type of plan that contracts with healthcare providers to provide care at a reduced cost. Many communities like ours accept managed care insurance benefit plans.

Examples of managed care plans include commercial insurance plans like health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and preferred provider organizations (PPOs). Other managed care insurance plans are Medicare Advantage plans and Ohio’s Medicaid Managed Care Insurance Benefit.

To read additional information on managed care insurance benefits, visit this dedicated webpage with helpful content and a section on frequently asked questions.

Questions? Optalis Can Help

I hope those answers helped clear things up for you. If you have any other questions, please contact us.

All of our directors of admission are more than happy to answer insurance questions. Every plan is different, so if you have questions about your plan and what it will cover at an Optalis community, feel free to reach out anytime.


Visual or Audible: Great Books For Seniors

Reading helps improve capabilities such as memory, cognition and attention span, especially in seniors. With so many resources available — audiobook and traditional physical books — the choices can almost seem overwhelming. Here are a few great options to ignite the book lover inside of you.

5 Audiobook Suggestions Perfect for Seniors

As of 2021, there were over $1.6 billion in sales on audiobooks in the United States. More and more people are enjoying audiobooks because it’s easy to listen wherever you are. Here are a few great options to tickle your ears:

1.) Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie

This is a classic that deserves to be re-read (or re-listened to). If you’ve forgotten the story, it centers around a murder that takes place on a snowbound train (the Orient Express). It’s up to detective Hercule Poirot to find out who the real assassin is, and he’s got a fantastic list of colorful characters on board to choose from.

2.) Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.

3.) The Price of Valor – David A. Smith

David A. Smith’s book is a must-read for elderly parents who served in World War II, or anyone who’s a history buff. This book takes a look at the life of a 17-year-old who was so determined to beat the Nazi regime, he forged his birth certificate to say he was 18 so he could enlist right away. He was ultimately successful in his attempts to keep the German army at bay at the Battle of Colmar Pocket, and became the most decorated hero of WW II.

4.) A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

This is an outstanding book for all generations. Writer Bill Bryson does a most unusual and effective thing: he takes highly complex scientific terms (remember high school chemistry class?) and explains them in easy-to-understand terms that make them utterly fascinating. It’s a great listen for anyone interested in earth science, history and evolution. 

5.) The Four Agreements – Don Miguel

People are never too old to change their point of view, even our aging parents. If mom or dad likes Eckhart Tolle, give don Miguel Ruiz’s classic a spin. This audiobook explores the self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering.

Related: Ask The Expert: Staying Active and Engaged in Long-Term Care >>

Hard Copy Books Seniors Will Love

1.) A Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman

In this novel, a seemingly grumpy and bitter man hides behind a mean exterior. However, when new neighbors with young children move in next door, everyone sees a different side of him.

2.) The Mirror & the Light – Hilary Mantel

The story began in May 1536. A French executioner decapitates Queen Anne Boleyn in a heartbeat and while her remains are tossed into oblivion, Cromwell takes breakfast with her enemies. The blacksmith’s son from Putney rises to power and wealth from the bloodbath of the spring, while his formidable master, Henry VIII, settles to short-lived happiness with his third queen, Jane Seymour.

3.) Invisible – Lorena McCourtney

As a well-written first-person mystery, Invisible is on the list of top ten novels chosen by seniors. Having a curious mind sometimes gets Ivy Malone into trouble, and her new discovery confirms that she can easily escape the public’s eye. Using her newfound anonymity and its unexpected advantages, she launches an unofficial investigation into vandalism at the local cemetery.

4.) The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

A wonderfully told story of a Cuban fisherman in the Gulf Stream. He kills and loses a giant marlin – specifically mentioned in the citation accompanying the author’s 1954 Nobel Prize nomination.

5.) Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell

  • New York Times Notable Book (2020)
  • Best Book of 2020: GuardianFinancial TimesLiterary Hub, and NPR
  • On the list of top ten must-read novels for seniors.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down—a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.

At Optalis, avid readers have plenty of opportunities to get their hands on good reads, from mobile libraries to well-stocked bookshelves on site.

Why Optalis? Learn about the Optalis difference >>