Reverse Shoulder Replacement RTSR for 84-year-old mom?


new member
May 31, 2016
San Francisco
United States United States
Hi Everyone,

My mother -- who is otherwise pretty healthy (other than RA, which is under control) and works out with a physical trainer twice a week -- has a shoulder that is at this point all but useful and a constant source of pain. An excellent surgeon is confident he can bring her relief but she's getting cold feet about the recovery. She lives alone with a black lab and my husband and I live more than an hour away. We can be with her the first week or so and she has lots of other support in terms of people who can run errands, bring meals, etc. But what's a realistic timeline in terms of her being able to function on her own as far as basic household stuff (bathing, warming up some food)? Also, how big a liability is the dog? We can keep him off of her bed the first week and I guess she can make him sleep in another room so he won't jump on her once she's on her own. But it all starts to sound a little daunting! Would really appreciate insights from folks in their 80s. What's reasonable to expect in terms of pain and how drawn out her recovery is likely to be? Thank you so much! Leslie
@ldsmartt Welcome to the shoulder section. You did not say but I am guessing your Mom would be getting a total shoulder replacement - if she is having a different surgery there might be other considerations than I mention here. Do let us know if I am incorrect in my guess. I was 66yo when I had my first shoulder replacement and 70 when I had the second one. The first one was for my dominant side (right shoulder) and that was the most difficult as doing things left handed was awkward for me. Unlike hip and knee replacements though shoulders are somewhat easier as they are not weight bearing joints! Your Mom will be in a sling following surgery and will need to wear that for about 6 weeks. The slings have a padded bolster - not uncomfortable to wear but it does hold the arm close to the body and a bit away from the body so it can be a bit of a nuisance to work with. Sling can be removed for bathing, dressing and doing some light swing the arm exercises that she will be given in the hospital.

She should be able to be on her own after a week though the extra support will be helpful. As for the dog .... yes if do is really energetic and likes to get really snuggly with her, excluding dog from her bed room would be a good idea and maybe have her arrange for someone (a responsible teen in her neighbor hood?) to take dog for walks. Your Mom will need to be very careful to avoid having surgical arm yanked, tugged on, or bumped.

While she will not be able to lift that arm for quite a while she can use her other arm to put things into a microwave or other wise fix meals. Bathing and hygiene is awkward so she should be practicing now doing things with her other arm/hand. Clothing - easy on and easy off is the best way to go! Have her experiment now with which type of top she can get on and off without moving the "bad" shoulder very much.

She will need physical therapy after a shoulder replacement and usually that does not start until shoulder is pretty well healed - at about 6 weeks post op. Ans she will need transport to PT sessions.

I hope this has answered some of your (and your Mom's) questions.
Thanks so, so much for such a comprehensive overview and a "to do" list we can use by way of preparation. My mom will be having a reverse total shoulder replacement and it's nerve-wracking. But for her longer-term quality of life, this seems to be the way to go. We just need to have a good plan!

Would love to hear from others in their 80s who have "survived" this surgery with good results and not too much of a struggle over those first critical six weeks.

Many thanks again for all the generous help!
Best wishes,
@ldsmartt Here's a link to a list of threads from members who are in recovery or been through recovery. I can't think of one member who did not have good results. Most are now off the board living life again.

Your mother will be fine. A few modifications are needed in the early days. But they are all temporary.
I am 74 and just had a reverse shoulder replacement 11 days ago. I was off opioids after 4 days and was cleared to drive. I was able to shower myself and wash my hair with one arm after 3 days. My surgical arm is in a very flexible light sling and I am able to do hand, wrist and bend my elbow with prescribed physician exercises at home. Would not be comfortable walking a dog even with my good arm, as I feel off balance with an arm in a sling. I can use my surgical side fingers and hand to do small things. I can not lift a casserole out of the oven with one arm, or pick up or move heavy pans. My husband had to cut up meat for me as I don’t want to use a lot of downward pressure on that side.
So to summarize: I can drive, get groceries, heat up food, shower, do laundry, get dressed.
I cannot change the fitted sheets or put on pillowcases, lift anything that requires two hands, hold my 12 pound cat, cut up meat, or tie shoes. We hired someone to clean the house because of vacuuming and scrubbing floors.
I have been told by the surgeon that I should be able to swim, golf, kayak, and garden once I am healed and completed some therapy.
@Prairie Sounds like you are doing really well for only 11 days out. Please don't try and get back to all the chores just yet. It is important to let that shoulder heal correctly. I am surprised you can drive already.

Please start your own thread in the Shoulder Recovery area so that we can support you through this journey. Here's how Starting a New Thread and Posting.
@Prairie what a great post op report!
I think the OP will greatly appreciate your recovery story.
I hope you hang around with us and start a thread. :SUNsmile:
@ldsmartt - my 90 year old neighbor had a reverse shoulder replacement last year. She was very active before and continues to be now. She told me her recovery was fairly quick and I see her out doing yard work!

BoneSmart #1 Best Blog

Staff online

Forum statistics

Latest member
Recent bookmarks
Top Bottom