Nov 4, 2015

Can General Anesthesia Cause Dementia?

Anesthesia is certainly a worry some issue for the elderly, and for the baby boomer community.

It is also a major issue for the Echo Boomers (children of boomers) who are now being asked, or will soon be asked to care for a growing number of adults that are getting older by the day.

I learned something very interesting while I was caring for my mother in a closed community of adults over the age of 55.

What I learned might surprise you.

I watched as one after another of these adults turned 80 years old.

I watched as perfectly healthy 79 year old's turned 80; and then, all of a sudden started having major health problems. Heart bypass surgeries, pacemakers, hip, knee and shoulder replacements, strokes, and the diagnosis of Alzheimer's or a related dementia.

It now seems to me that 80 years of age is more or less the D day in life. This realization really stunned me.

Turn 80 and 
  • there is about a 30 percent chance you are living with Alzheimer's. 
  • Turn 85 and the number rises to about 42 percent.
I honestly believe that every baby boomer and their children, the echo boomers, should be discussing health issues like those described above now.

Let me ask caregivers. Do you think you would have been better prepared if you knew the statistics on Alzheimer's when you were let's say 40 - 50?

This bring us around to the important issue of Anesthesia and dementia.

Can anesthesia cause dementia? The research is all over the place on this issue.

Hip shoulder, knee repalcement, heart disease, stroke all come with procedures that include general anesthesia. General anesthesia can cause post-operative cognitive decline (also known as COPD), and is thought to be associated with inflammation in the brain.

One of the first things you should do if you are looking at surgery with Anesthesia is talk to a doctor with extensive experience with anesthesia and post operative care.

Ask, can the amount of anesthesia be reduced? What kind of anesthesia is being used? And importantly, are their drugs that can lesson the effects of COPD, or memory loss post surgery.


I am including a link to a list of articles that have been published here in the Alzheimer's Reading Room around the issue of Alzheimer's, dementia, and anesthesia.

This includes research on this topic that is specifically related to the Alzheimer's and dementia communities.

I hope you will take the time to read the articles, share with family members, and print and take into support groups. In other words, share and get prepared now.

Can General Anesthesia Trigger Dementia?

Understanding these issues could really make a difference in someone's quality of life.

Take control so to speak.

Related Content

Does the Combination of Aricept and Namenda Slow the Rate of Decline in Alzheimer's Patients

How Bright Light and Our Daily Routine Improved Dotty's Behavior and Vision

The Seven Stages of Alzheimer's

Deeply Forgetful and a Whole Person

The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

You are reading original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room