Learning that your loved-one needs a pacemaker can be an emotional and frightening event. Surgery is usually a worrisome prospect, but when the surgery involves the heart, such as a pacemaker surgery does, the thought might be even more disturbing. Knowing what a pacemaker is and what to expect before and after surgery can help reduce some of the fear and stress surrounding the procedure.
What is a Pacemaker?
A pacemaker is an electronic device that consists of wires and a generator. It is placed under the skin near the collarbone and is used to help the heart to beat at a regular pace. A person may need a pacemaker because of damage to the heart, such as from a heart attack, that causes the heart to beat abnormally. Or, they may need a pacemaker due to age-related changes in the heart that can cause it to beat too slowly. When the heart beats too quickly or too slowly, the body does not receive the blood supply it needs to function properly. When this happens, the person may feel tired or lightheaded, experiencing fainting spells, feel short of breath, or suffer damage to their organs, which can result in death.
A pacemaker is connected to the heart with wires and sends a small electrical signal to the heart that helps it to beat at a normal, regular pace. The electrical signal does not hurt and only happens when the heart needs it. When the heart is beating normally, the pacemaker remains inactive.
What Should My Senior Do Before Surgery?
Your doctor should provide your senior with instructions about what to do prior to surgery. Follow the doctor’s advice closely. Some of the things the doctor may ask them to do are:
-Medications: The doctor may advise your senior to stop taking certain medications before surgery. Or, there may be medications the doctor prescribes in preparation for the surgery.
-Food and Water: Your loved-one will probably be asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight on the night before the surgery.
-Shower or Bathe: The doctor may want them to take a shower and wash their hair using a special soap that helps reduce the risk of infection.
Your loved-one’s senior care provider can assist with preparation for surgery. A senior care provider can remind them as to which medications should or should not be taken. They can also prepare a healthy meal and snack for your senior so that they do not feel the need to snack after midnight. If your loved-one needs assistance with bathing, a senior care provider can help. In addition, if they are feeling nervous about the surgery, having the company of a senior care provider can help them to pass the time and keep their mind off the procedure.
What Happens After Pacemaker Surgery?
Your loved-one may stay overnight in the hospital following surgery or may be released the same day. Once they are home, your senior should follow any instructions the doctor has provided. Sometimes people with pacemakers worry about using electronic devices like cell phones and microwaves. Reassure them that they can still do both, though it is recommended that they not carry a cell phone in a shirt pocket over the pacemaker. Cell phones should also be kept at least six inches away from pacemakers, so your loved-one should hold the phone on the side of their body opposite the pacemaker.
Initially, your senior will need to take it easy after surgery, but will eventually be able to resume their normal activities. Following the surgery, your loved-one’s senior care provider can help them to recover by allowing them to rest while they handle light household chores, meal preparations, and other tasks.
If you or an aging loved-one are considering home care services in Laguna Beach, CA, please contact the caring staff at Canaan Home Care today!