Approximately 285,000 people in the United States undergo hip replacement surgery each year. In a hip replacement, a painful hip joint is surgically removed and replaced with an artificial joint that is often made of both plastic and metal components. This operation, once completed, should give the patient relief from a painful hip joint and allow them to walk more easily.

Just as the actual surgery is important; so too are steps that can be taken prior to the procedure that can help to ensure a smooth, speedy recovery.

After your loved one’s physician has made the decision that hip replacement surgery is the best option, take note of the following tips before his or her procedure to be fully prepared.

Learn – Perhaps the most important step in the preparation process is to learn as much as you can about the procedure, such as what type of anesthesia will be used and how long the operation generally takes. As they always say, “knowledge is power;” in this case, knowing as much as possible about hip replacement surgery can help aid in your loved one’s recovery process. There is a lot of information available regarding this surgery, so being well-versed about each step of the operation process will benefit both you and the patient.

Strength – Prior to surgery, if the patient is overweight, it’s important for him or her to safely shed some of the excess pounds. Encourage your loved one to eat a balanced diet in addition to pursuing physical activity (to the extent the hip pain or other issues allows). Working on physical strength is also important. Strengthening the muscles that surround the hip could dramatically speed up the recovery process. Additionally, upper body strength will make it much easier to navigate with a walker or on crutches.

Assistance – Whether it’s crutches or a walker, work with the physician and any involved physical therapists to determine what type of mobility assistance your loved one will be using. Once you find that out, your family member should take his or her crutches or walker for a “test drive.” Practice makes perfect, and when the time comes to use the new piece of equipment after surgery, your loved one will feel confident and prepared.

Questions – Asking the surgeon questions is a great way to reassure your loved one that he or she is in the right hands. Before meeting with the doctor, write down important points that you want to go over with the physician. This will ensure that no stone is left unturned prior to surgery. Also, there will be a lot of information to remember before the procedure, such as the dietary restrictions the night before the operation and other general guidelines. In short, always bring a pen and paper to jot down the most important tidbits of information from your meeting with the doctor.

Rearrange – Before surgery, rearrange your loved one’s house to make the most important pieces of furniture readily accessible. For instance, consider moving their bedroom to the first floor tp create a comfortable area where they will spend most of their time recuperating. Equip this area with the essentials, such as remotes, TV, computer, phone, etc. Also, consider adding a shower seat in the bathroom, and make sure that all of the objects that he or she will need throughout the day are at hand level so your loved one doesn’t have to bend down and grab them. Finally, clear pathways in the house for easy navigation so as to not have to worry about tripping over hazards such as a loose throw rug.

If you are working to prepare your loved one for hip replacement surgery, take note of these five tips, and remember to talk to his or her doctor for a more in-depth look at the surgery preparation and guidelines for recovery.