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What effect does anesthesia have on a person diagnosed with Dementia?

1 answer | Last updated: Jun 28, 2011
A fellow caregiver asked...

What effect if any, does anesthesia have on a person diagnosed with Dementia? Considering having knee replacement surgery done soon.


Caring.com User - Jennifer Serafin, N.P.
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Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.
A fellow caregiver answered...

Orthopedic surgeries are risky procedures for the elderly, as they often require a several hours of general anesthesia. If you have dementia on top of advanced age, the risks of See also:
Non-Alzheimer's Causes of Dementia
complications does increase. Many people have issues with anethesia, like waking up confused or being overly sedated. Even after surgery, you could develop post-operative delirium (confusion) from the anethesia, making the recovery time difficult.

You should also consider the post-surgical period, as this can be difficult as well. Many older people need to be in a short-term care facility, as they need hours of rehab therapy to recover from this kind of surgery.

I would recommend that you talk with your doctors about this, and see if they think this is something for you to consider doing. I would recommend that you should exhaust all the possible alternatives, like physical therapy and pain medications, before you choose surgery under general anesthesia.