Lately we have been receiving a lot of search queries from Google and Yahoo concerning Anesthesia, Surgery, Alzheimer's and dementia.
It is clear that this is a growing concern for caregivers taking care of patients living with dementia and Alzheimer's.
It is likely to be of greater concern as baby boomers continue to age and the incidence of Alzheimer's and related dementia's like Lewy Body continue to rise.
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It is not unusual for dementia patients to evidence considerable negative effects from anesthesia after an operation.
Caregivers often notice sharp drops in memory, postoperative delirium, and postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) after an operation, and have no idea what to do about.
I'll start with a link to a Custom search of the articles already available here in the Alzheimer's reading.
Custom Search - Alzheimer's and Anesthesia
You will find the links to 10 good articles on the page. Please consider sharing this link in support groups and on your social media pages.
It is clear that anesthesia and Alzheimer's don't mix well. As a result, you should always talk to a doctor specialist (surgeon), and to an anesthesiologist before any surgery.
Three things you want to know are:
1. Is the the operation absolutely necessary?
2. What alternative anesthesia's are available, and which work best with dementia patients?
3. And, importantly, what is the protocol, in other words what is going to be done, after the surgery if any of these problems arise - a sharp drops in memory, postoperative delirium, or postoperative cognitive dysfunction?
You really need to have these conversations upfront so you are clear on what will be done in the eventuality of any problems.
Ask these 3 questions.
1. Is the doctor going to use Sedation or Anesthesia?
2. What are the risks involved in the Surgery?
3. What are the known anesthesia risks for the Elderly?
The surgeon and anesthesiologist should be able to answer these questions easily. If not, you might need a second doctor or a second opinion.
This article - 3 Things Everyone Should Know About Anesthesia - should be helpful in helping you ask the right questions and how to formulate those question. You might want to print the article and have it in hand if surgery is on the horizon.
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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.
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