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What to Expect When Preparing for Geriatric Surgery

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), about half of all people aged 65 years or older will have some sort of surgery during their lifetimes. When you consider that 78 million Baby Boomers are transitioning into this age group, there is reason to be concerned about geriatric surgery. Whether you are the patient or know an elderly person who must go through a procedure, it is important to understand what to expect. Free home healthcare services can help with support and resources in the aftermath of surgery, but you may find additional information useful.

Unique Concerns for Geriatric Surgery

In general, there are challenges in conducting a preoperative assessment for older adults. Some key health details may be overlooked unless providers undertake a comprehensive history and physical exam. Plus, the effects of medications used before, during, and after a procedure can have varying effects on the elderly.

The ASA also notes two specific concerns for the effects of anesthesia used in connection with geriatric surgery:

  1. A temporary condition termed postoperative delirium can lead the patient to feel confused and have difficulties concentrating. The elderly person may be disoriented and not recognize family members or close friends. The condition can start a few hours or days after surgery, but it usually goes away without treatment after a week.
  2. Postoperative cognitive dysfunction is a more serious, longer-term condition resulting from geriatric surgery. The primary concern is that many symptoms, such as memory loss and difficulty concentrating, are also associated with aging.

Tips to Ensure a Smooth Geriatric Surgery

Regardless of the concerns, surgery may be required as an only option to treat an elderly person’s medical condition. Therefore, some recommendation may be helpful for a smooth surgery experience:

  • Consult with your doctor about a preliminary cognitive test, the results of which can be used as a benchmark for comparing postoperative mental functioning.
  • Ask any and all questions about the procedure, and make sure you are comfortable with the explanations.
  • Make sure a family member or close friend is available to provide emotional support after geriatric surgery, especially during the critical time period when the patient is regaining consciousness.
  • If you or the patient relies on glasses, a hearing aid, or other devices, have them ready for immediate use.
  • Request a recovery room with a window, as the view can help differentiate between night and day.
  • For overnight recovery from geriatric surgery, pack personal items that offer reminders of family and friends. Photos, a calendar, jewelry, or other belongings can help with readjustment.
  • Have a loved one check on the patient frequently after surgery, watching for unusual behaviors or indications that there may be lasting health effects.

Take Advantage of Free Healthcare Benefits

Knowing your options for free home healthcare services can also be a source of comfort when you are preparing for geriatric surgery. United Energy Workers Healthcare and Four Corners Health Care are a leading provider of benefits and support at no cost for eligible individuals, so please contact a member of our team to hear more about your options.