Ask any post-surgery patient: Before you left your surgeon's office, did you make a mental list of the people you needed to call right away to tell them you were having surgery?
"I had a short list in mind even before I went into the surgeon's office," says Lisa Grote who had hip surgery several years ago. "I knew that my husband was going to need help caring for me, and I knew that once our family and friends heard, we'd both have lots of support."
As a caregiver, you can ask your loved one to contact family members and close friends to let them know about an upcoming surgery. If your loved one would rather have you make the calls, or is unable to make the calls themselves, you can work with your loved one to make the list of people to call. Before you make the calls, discuss what you will say to family and friends. You may consider relaying information such as the day, the hospital, the number of days expected in the hospital, and the expected home-recovery time. Some people may appreciate an explanation of the type of surgery that is taking place.
Too Much Information
Be sensitive to how much information to provide. Your brother-in-law may enjoy hearing every clinical detail, but Great Aunt Matilda might swoon at the thought. If you are unsure of the tolerance of your listener, err on the side of less detail.
When people ask what they can do to help, give them some suggestions. Don't be afraid to say "yes, you can help." Everyone can use a little help sometimes. Make a list of concerns related to providing for the patient, the patient's home and yourself. As you talk to family and friends and they offer help, take a look at your list and see where each can help. Ask if and when they'd be available on short notice, should you need an extra pair of hands-or a set of wheels.
The following list should get you started.