Many Boomers live alone. They may not have family or friends who live close by, and when an unexpected health issue occurs, they’re left to recover on their own. Earlier this year, I found myself in this exact situation. I was recovering from open-heart surgery while living alone. Well, during the process, I learned a few things I’d like to share. Here are some tips for making your solo trip to rehabilitation a little easier.
It’s important to keep an “I can do this,” positive attitude.
Don’t overdo it. Follow your doctor’s orders, but don’t give up.
You may find that some people who you thought would be there for you, aren’t. Try not to let this interfere with your recovery, no matter how hurt you may feel. Stress will only make things more difficult. Keep a forgiving attitude by remembering that everyone has reasons for what they do.
Take rest periods as needed. If it helps, play relaxing music to destress.
When you’re able to, walk. Every little bit helps. Of course, wait until your doctor says it’s OK. But, walking will help you recover faster. In fact, do any and all exercises that your doctor instructs. It might hurt, but it’ll gradually get easier. If there are any problems, do not hesitate to call your physician!
If you know in advance that you’ll be taking time to recover from an injury or illness, then make sure to prepare by having plenty of easy-to-make, healthy foods at home. If you’re recovering from something that happened suddenly (like a heart attack), then take advantage of your city’s local resources. Meals on Wheels or other care services can help!
Have safety devices like grab bars or handrails installed in your bathroom. A shower chair can also help.
If you have a cell phone, make sure you have it with you at all times. Should you fall or need help dial 9-1-1 immediately.
Organize your medicines so that you do not forget to take them at the correct times. Your thinking may not be as alert as it was before the illness and it is very important to take those medicines correctly.
Do not drive until the doctor says that it is OK. Remember, it is not only your life that could be put in danger but the lives of others on the road.
If you are not supposed to lift, then many tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning may be difficult for you for a while. If you can, enlist the help of a home care or housekeeping service. If not, get online and order some additional supports like a nice rolling cart with wheels for carrying bags and laundry.
You may find that you are weak. Picking up items that you drop may be more difficult than usual. Believe it or not, I used spaghetti tongs to pick up small things. Hey, it worked for me! Be creative and figure out new ways to do things that will keep you from stressing or being overly tired. Swap your regular dishes for paper plates to make dinner clean-up easier. Drag the trash can instead of carrying it.
Hopefully, you will have some great reading material near you. If you have access to a computer then use it! There are many support groups online such as Heart Sisters; the one that I joined. Use your Facebook friends as much as you need to use them. They might not be there in person but it sure feels good to know that they care. My Facebook friends gave me so much encouragement. I am so grateful for them.
Share at your doctor’s office. If he does not have time to be supportive or caring then you might want to consider looking for another physician, depending upon your given circumstance. Take full advantage of what your insurance company has to offer if you have medical insurance. Some offer physical therapy, rehabilitation, visiting nurses, sitters and etc. Use them if needed!
If you are employed, it will do no good to sit at home worrying about when you can get back to work. I know times are rough. I was there myself. Take the necessary time to heal before going back to work. I must admit, I did not do this. Now I am having to do some of the things that I should have done before starting back to a full-time job. You might be thinking, “yes, this is easier said than done. I need a paycheck!” I understand; I did too. Now I regret not fully getting well before going back to work. Even though Dave Ramsey says to tear up those credit cards, I believe that sometimes a person needs one. When my emergency fund ran out, I used the credit card. Being frugal is good but doing without the necessary things that you need when sick is NOT the time to save money. Your life is much more important than money. When you are well then you can work and pay that credit card off. It is working for me!
If you have a pet while sick, then love it! Pets seem to have a way of knowing when you need love too. And, they are great company!
Now for the big one that is difficult for some of us to do; ask for help. Ask the grocery man to carry your groceries to the car. Let him return the cart. Let the neighbor help you with that door. Make it an opportunity to meet a neighbor and get their phone number. You might need to use it and in addition, you might get time later on down the line to return the favor. You might even make a friend. If you have a place where you worship, sometimes they are willing to help. It does not mean that you are a weak person because you ask for help. Always thank the person or send them a thank you card.
Let things go if you are tired. It will get done when you feel better. Take this time to pamper and love yourself. You will find that when you come out of all of this that you will be a much stronger person than you were before. Each day that you try gives you one more chance to be an inspiration to others in the journey of life.
Originally published July 27, 2023