Reducing your risk of changes in thinking following surgery
Cognition is an important function of the brain that enables us to acquire and process information, to enhance our understanding of thoughts, experiences, and our senses. Any condition that affects our ability to think, reason, memorize, or be attentive affects our cognitive ability. Some cognitive decline is a normal part of aging, but there are many things you can do to prevent or forestall cognitive changes as you age, including when planning for surgery. Older adults are having more surgical procedures As our population ages and medicine and healthcare advances, more older adults are likely to develop serious conditions (like heart problems) and undergo surgical procedures to treat or manage these conditions. Recent surveys suggest that progress in surgical techniques and control of anesthesia has increased surgical procedures in older people, with approximately 30% of all surgeries being conducted in people over the age of 70. While advances in medicine may help people live longer, older adults are more likely to develop complications due to surgery. Some research suggests approximately one-quarter of those over 75 undergoing major surgery will develop significant cognitive decline, and about half of those people will suffer permanent brain damage. Why do surgery and anesthesia cause problems with thinking for older adults? There are degenerative changes in the brain with aging that predispose people to cognitive changes from surgery. Hence, age is a risk factor that nee...
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