Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Alzheimer's and Anesthesia

Alzheimer's and anesthesia don't mix well. Some physicians are advising their patients that are already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to avoid surgery unless absolutely necessary.

By Sydney S. Farrier, LCSW

Sydney S. Farrier
How often have you heard the comment about an older person who recently underwent a major surgery, "She was fine until she had that (hip surgery, knee replacement, cardiac surgery, etc) but now she seems confused."

This week I was visiting with an attractive woman in her 80's who had a knee surgery under a general anesthesia a couple of years ago. About six months after the first surgery, another surgery with general anesthesia had to be done due to some problems with the knee. She stated she has never recovered.

Her knee is fine, but the cognitive problems she experienced following these surgeries has resulted in her having to give up her home and the gardening she loved, move to a retirement community near her daughter, forgo driving, and lose the sense of independence she so valued.

Both she and her daughter believe the two general anesthesia significantly contributed to her cognitive changes. She is angry that the possibility for cognitive changes was never discussed with her.

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