Posts: 21
Registered: ‎08-08-2011

We have just learned that my husband (77 yeaers old) will need open heart surgery . The thought is terrifying .  Neither of us have any experience with surgeries beyond my having the kids.  I know he will be fine - it's the aftermath I'm frightened of.  We have no family in the area. We have friends but I wouldn't feel right about asking them for help. He'll be in the hospital for 4 days and then we are on our own. I would really appreciate any advice any of you might have. on handling this.  Will I be changing dressings ? Do I need to hire a nurse? Should I rent a hospital bed? Our house has 5 levels. How much pain will he be in? 

Sorry about all the ranting.  You can tell I'm a bit overwhelmed.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 16,155
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

@beth58I'm sure it's overwhelming.  I do wish I knew enough to help you plan, but I don't.  I can tell you, though, that my BIL had open heart surgery at about your DH's age.  He's 91 now and still amazing all of us.


I did live near my sister at the time, but I don't believe they had in-house help.  They did live on one floor though, but someone else will have to talk with you about stairs. I'm sure some will have excedllent info for you.



Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,195
Registered: ‎09-18-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

@beth58 I can imagine how terrified you both must be.  The Social Worker at the hospital will speak with you.  You will have a choice either rehab or home care.  They will make the arrangements for whatever choice you make.  If you chose home care, someone will come to your home, help with getting him washed, dressed and walking.  He will not need a hospital bed but a portable toilet in the beginning would be helpful.  Is there somewhere on the first floor that could be used as a bedroom?  Stairs will be difficult for a few weeks.  Otherwise whatever bedroom you use will be fine as long as there is a bath near.


Make a list of questions, so when you meet with the Social Worker, she will be able to answer them.  He will be on medicine until he heals.


Prayers for you both!

Valued Contributor
Posts: 554
Registered: ‎08-15-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

When my husband had a stroke, the hospital and the rehab facility both had a lot of information, questions about our home, how equipped we were to bring him home, and suggestions about what we would need. I'm sure that will be available to you. They wanted to know if we had family, friends, neighbors who could help. If not, they could recommend Home Health Care or a nurse, whatever you will need. 

Make a list of your questions so you won't forget to ask.




Valued Contributor
Posts: 750
Registered: ‎04-27-2015

Re: managing open heart surgery

My dad had open heart surgery at about 80.  He didn't need a nurse or hospital bed.  He was fine.  A nurse came a few times a week in the beginning and he went for therapy.  The only scary part was when I walked into ICU the next morning and he thought things had happened that didn't. He was in about 4 days also.  He lived a long time after that and was still driving from NJ to Florida at 88.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,011
Registered: ‎06-07-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

The hospital social worker and the doctor can help with all these questions. Every case is different. The only thing I will say is that many people are depressed for a little while after the surgery. Make sure there is someone to help him through this time.

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,750
Registered: ‎07-24-2013

Re: managing open heart surgery

You might want to talk with his cardiologist office and ask them for help - they will coordinate his care but once in Hospital, the Hospitals have patient care coordinators. Post surgery he may go to cardiac rehab for a short stay. Once your husband is home, there are visiting nurses for a period of time, but Medicare alone does not cover full nursing care.  If you have a Supplement review your coverage, full nursing care may be part of your insurance.


Whatever you do, do NOT let them discharge him without a good plan in place.  i learned from my mother's multiple surgeries, the squeaky know what i mean. All the better if your husband can go to rehab for those critical days post-op. Wishing you the best and take good care.


My mother was in the cardiac floor with Afib, post hip  replacement. she was in trouble, her heart rate was 200 and it could not be lowered. She had a team of caregivers and there was a patient care coordinator, a Hospitalist and a Cardiac specialist onstaff. When she was discharged, after 3 weeks,  She had pseudomonas and they recommended SNF rehab for her IV antibiotic regimen. She insisted on going home and it was my niece who had to deal with the IV and all that went with it. . Now my mother has Plan F Medicare which is one of the top shelf levels and even at that level she did not qualify for 24/7 nursing care, only the VNAs



Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,481
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery



Your feelings are normal.  I had a 87 year old neighbor that had it with no problems other than he had to limit stair climbing. I highly suggest that you take a deep breath and chill a little. Then get  pen and paper and start writing ALL of your concerns no matter how small. Take this to the doctor and have an honest dialogue with him or her.


Your doctor knows your husbands health and can better guide you as to what may be needed. It is important to write them down and not think you will remember all of them.


It sounds like the two of you are pretty healthy to live this long with no surgeries!



There are outpatient services that will go in effect depending on your husband's  needs.



Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,459
Registered: ‎06-13-2010

Re: managing open heart surgery

I am sorry to read about your husband's upcoming surgery. I echo the previous posts regarding the hospital's role in the discharge process. I am sending prayers of healing to the both of you.🤞



~~~All we need is LOVE💖Healing Prayer.jpg




Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 5,842
Registered: ‎05-27-2015

Re: managing open heart surgery

[ Edited ]

@beth58  Listen to those who direct you towards the social workers and patient advocates in you hospital. They are usually great. The main thing is to not put him under undue physical stress. I think we are in the same boat. My granddaughter is having open heart surgery in early November. She is 4 years old, and they will be restructuring her aorta from its current hour glass structure. She has Williams Syndrome, and this is a common birth  defect issue. We have been told that the most important issue is keeping her movement to a minimum during the 6 week healing time.