My 84-year-old father-in-law is about to have knee replacement surgery. What kind of post surgery challenges can we expect?

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My mother has had her knee replaced, but NOT at 84 years old. My friend had both of her knees replaced too. I know with my friend she was supposed to be up and walking like the day after surgery. They told her the therapy was the most important thing she could do. I remember she told me that they said if she didn't do physical therapy her knee would lock up and they'd have to bend it backwards to break it free. OUCH!! She is pain free now though.
My Dad had his done last year at 85. After the operation he stayed for rehab. While it was difficult to have him in the hospital for weeks, it was the best thing for him. They put you on this machine that flexes the knee pretty much right after surgery. At first he said it was painful but he quickly got used to it. The rehab is pretty intense but he met some people and it was much better than driving him to PT repeatedly. If they offer the option of keeping him there you should consider it.

The one problem he had was he developed a urinary tract infection. We'd visited him one night & he just seemed loopy. I spoke to the nurse who assured me that it was the pain meds. This was right after he was moved, so I thought he had less pain meds, but I figured she knew what she was talking about. The next day my SIL went to visit & said he was really loopy & falling asleep. Within an hour we received a phone call from the hospital saying he was in the ER with 104!!! fever! Just about killed the poor man. Come to find out it was the urinary infection, he actually was off the pain meds. You really need to make sure someone is paying attention to his care.

Dad is fine, he is glad he had the operation and he gets around so much better. Good luck with your Father in law.
Anytime an elderly person has an anesthetic, there is a strong possibility that they will have some dementia type confusion following. My father in law had a valve replaced at the Cleveland Clinic and when he came out of surgery we were concerned because he was quite confused and not himself. The staff told us this is not unusual for someone his age, in his early 80's at the time. Eventually, about a month, his mind did clear and he was, almost, his old self once again. A cousin is experiencing the same thing with his 90 year old mother who just had shoulder surgery. So, don't be alarmed if your father seems a little out of it for a while following his operation. That isn't to say not to check for other causes. And if he does have a problem, he may never be completely like he was before. Sometimes they don't come all the way back and lose a little of the sharpness they had prior to the anesthetic. Best of luck and I hope all goes extremely well with a rapid and full recovery.
This is very true. That was also a part of why we figured it was nothing to worry about with Dad. My dad's older sisters both experienced this type of confusion after hospitalization.
My mom at 85 had hip replacement surgery. Then at 86 had her other hip replaced. She also needs to have both knees done. She did well with the surgeries. The therapy brought up different issues. For instance, using the walker she would have to use her wrists more and it caused arthritis flare-ups. This also occurred in her knees. Once the therapist realized they lowered the expectations and it allowed her to go at a slower pace so her other joints didn't suffer.
Immobility at first, and absolute rehab, follow-their-instructions techniques, later.

Just an afterthought: Why would anyone in their mid-eighties want knee replacement? Can't one live with a stiff knee? Am I being naive? I, myself, would say no to this very elective surgery at that age.
Why? So they can get around without the risk of falling because they are off balance. Because their health is perfect, except for the lack of cartilage in their knee. Because their other knee is starting to having problems from the extra weight put on that knee while favoring the other knee.

Since the surgery my Dad has returned to playing golf, is able to work in his garden, care for his chickens and walk without pain. Well work the surgery. He would not be happy sitting in a chair watching the world go by. His family and friends wouldn't be happy watching him be sad and angry at watching the world go by.

Everyone is different. Their interest, levels of activity and health vary. This is a personal decision made by the patient, doctor and family.

To answer N1K2R3's comment about "why?" father-in-law is a VERY active and healthy 84-year old man. He has been in extreme pain for over a year now. He did try other options for relieving his pain (shots, different shoes, physical therapy), but nothing gave relief. After his pain started to alter the way he walks and cause back trouble he was advised by his doctor to have the knee replaced. Yes, it was an elective surgery he chose because of need. I suspect he'll be with us for at least another 10-15 years so he was looking for the best way to live those coming years pain-free.

Knee replacement is not for everyone and should be viewed in light of physical ability and overall health. I believe it was the right choice for him.

Thanks to each of you who responded to my question. My father-in-law is on the road to recovery now and your shared words of advice helped us prepare for his recovery phase.
So glad your Father-in-law is doing well. His attempts to avoid surgery sound much like my Dad's. I am sure that he will be glad he had the surgery. I know he'll be glad to have it all behind him!
J and K: Thank you for that explanation of your 84-year-old father-in-law. Each case is different, and I certainly hope he made the right decision.

As for me, I'd rather limp a little and use mind control to overcome knee adversities than submit to general anesthesia and surgery at age 84. Too much can go wrong on the table.

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