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Caregiver Tips: Preparing Seniors for Surgery

By Mary-Frances Walsh, 8:00 am on

Nearly half of all adults over the age of 65 will undergo a surgical procedure in their senior years. Factors such as age and health can affect how a senior reacts to surgery in comparison to the general population, so it’s important to properly prepare your loved one if he or she has an upcoming surgical procedure scheduled. The following are a few tips that can help you prepare, presented by Home Care Assistance, a local home care agency in Sonoma County.

Create a Complete List Medications

It is crucial that both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist are aware of the complete list of medications and supplements that your loved one is taking before the day of surgery arrives. Some types of drugs, such as blood thinners, will need to be stopped or have their dosages lowered before the procedure in order to prevent excess bleeding. Patients who regularly take benzodiazepines, such as anxiety medications and sleeping pills, may need to stop or decrease their dosages to prevent complications with anesthesia.

Find a Baseline for Cognitive Functioning

Older adults are often much more sensitive to anesthesia than young adults, and drugs metabolize much slower in their bodies resulting in longer lasting after-effects. Some elderly patients experience post-operative delirium that is marked by confusion and disorientation that can last for up to a week after surgery. Family members can request that their loved one’s physician completes a cognitive functioning test before surgery in order to provide a baseline that can be compared with the senior’s mental status after the operation.

Plan for Post-Hospital Support

It is important that a family member or a professional caregiver is available when your loved one is admitted to their room after surgery. Seniors may become very overwhelmed after the procedure, especially if they are suffering from temporary delirium, and it’s important that they are provided with a comforting and familiar face. If your loved one wears glasses or uses a hearing aid, it’s important to have these items available to them post-surgery as inadequate sensory perception may contribute to confusion.

Ensure Safety at Home

Family members who will be unable to stay with their loved one on an around-the-clock basis following a surgery should enlist the help of professional, trained caregivers. An experienced live-in caregiver maximizes safety by making sure that your loved one does not take on activities that are too strenuous after surgery, assists with daily tasks and personal care activities, ensures that doctor recommendations are followed and keeps an eye out for post-hospital complications.

To learn more about post-hospital care for Sonoma County seniors, reach out to Home Care Assistance Sonoma County today. We are a trusted provider of in-home care, with experienced caregivers available for care at the hospital, for transportation home and at home on an hourly or live-in basis. To request information about post-hospital care or to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation, call 707-843-4368.