1Talk to the doctors
When you are suggested surgery, talk to your doctors and surgeons regarding the necessity and benefits of the surgery. Doctors who specialize in treating older adults will be able to gauge your symptoms and guide you better, especially if you are taking medications for other ailments. A geriatric anaesthetist (an anaesthetist who specializes in providing anaesthesia to older adults) can help monitor your conditions and give you proper pre-op and post-op advice.
2Ask about the surgery
Whatever questions you might have about your surgery, feel free to clarify it with your surgeon. No question is considered silly. You can ask about the specifics of the procedure (type, incision length, time taken), pre-op preparations, location, type of anaesthesia, post-op complications (pain, nausea), discharge, recovery and the financial aspect of the procedure.
3Go through the tests
Once you have decided to undergo surgery, your surgeon will ask you to take up certain tests to ensure that you are in good health for being operated upon. Keep your medical files ready as they are a good indication of your medical history. Apart from these, your doctor might suggest you go through various lab tests and scans/sonography. Mention your allergies (related to food and medicines) to the doctor.
This is a good time to talk about any concerns you might have regarding the surgery.
4Mention your drugs
It is very important to provide your doctor with a comprehensive list of all the medications you are taking. This enables the doctor and the anaesthetist to decide on the course of your further treatment. Having a printed medication card with all the medicine names on it might help.
5Pack a hospital bag
In case your surgery is planned, pack a hospital bag with the essentials you will need immediately after you come to. Put in a couple of loose gowns/shirts, pyjamas, slippers, some towels, your medicines, earphones, some books, light blankets, and a bar of soap. According to your preferences, you can also carry a small radio (your phone will also do), or your hobby activity (like knitting or sewing).
6Reach out for support
Post-surgery care can become too overwhelming for a single caregiver, especially if the caregiver is your spouse. If your children are elsewhere and cannot come for the surgery, you could even consider appointing a caregiver to relieve some stress off your partner. Friends and relatives also often form a helpful network in times of recovery.
7Ask your doctor when your aids will be available after surgery
If you require some aid after surgery (dark glasses, hearing aid, walker), ask your doctor how soon you can start using them. These aids help in resuming normalcy to life after surgery, but too much too soon can damage your health.
8Keep finances ready
Once you get admitted to the hospital for surgery, there will a constant demand for money. Give free reins to whoever is handling the money matters. If you are covered by medical insurance, keep your insurance card handy at all times (or give it to your caregiver). Preserve all the bills and receipts carefully. This helps during reimbursements if the hospital you are at is not enlisted with the insurance company.
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