How Anesthesia Works:
- Medications that make an individual Unconscious and Unable to Feel Pain
- Used for surgeries that –
- May take a long period of time.
- May cause significant Physical and or Emotional Discomfort
- Possibly interfere with Breathing
Why the Elderly are at Higher Risk:
- The elderly person may feel “Groggy”, “Foggy” for a longer period of time after surgery. This is a Safety Risk that can last for Days, Weeks, Months.
- Certain conditions can make the surgery more complex. Diabetes, Heart, Cancer, and Respiratory conditions can all be impacted by Anesthesia. People with Parkinson’s may experience Hallucinations, and Confusion that may not appear until days after the surgery.
- Can affect the type of Post Operative Care the individual may receive
What is Hospital – Induced Delirium?
- It is a common after-effect of hospitalization and anesthesia
- Delirium is an Abrupt, Temporary change in a person’s mental functioning
- Dementia is a more Gradual, Permanent Decline in mental functioning
- People with Dementia can experience Delirium but the terms are not interchangeable
- The terminology used to describe the elder person’s behavior after surgery can often be muddled and confusing
Should the Elder person Have the Surgery?
- Understand the Risks and Benefits of the surgery
- Will it improve their quality of life?
- Will they be able to participate in appropriate rehab?
- Will their living environment need to change permanently?
- Is this something that the person wants?
The Pre-Op Plan:
- Have a Thorough Pre-Op Evaluation
- Provide documentation of persons Medication Regimen
- List Every medication the individual is taking
- List All Over the Counter, Dietary Supplements, Herbal Supplements
- Even the “Tiny glass of Wine” with dinner
- Provide documentation regarding any Pre-existing Conditions
- List everything, no matter how minor
- Testing may be necessary
If the Decision to go ahead with the Surgery is made,
- Take a deep breath
- Communication with the Medical Community can be very frustrating
- Many things will happen quicker than you may have planned.
- Many things will take longer than you may think.