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Older Adults Have Special Needs in Surgery

Carefully planned nursing care can help reduce surgical morbidity

WEDNESDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Age-specific nursing care can help reduce surgical morbidity in older adults undergoing surgery, according to a study published in the March issue of the AORN Journal.

Judith L. Clayton, R.N., of Gwinnett Health System in Lawrenceville, Ga., spells out the particular needs of older adults before, during and after surgery. She discusses preoperative precautions to reduce morbidity such as thromboembolic disease stockings to counteract the particular threat to older adults of postoperative embolism; correct handling of assistive devices such as dentures and hearing aids to maximize patient safety and comfort; and patient education.

Older adults also have special needs in the intraoperative and postoperative phases, and require greater attention to the risks of anesthesia and their greater susceptibility to infection. Older patients' fears also need to be considered, the author writes. In addition to fears of loss of control, pain, disfigurement and death, they may fear surgery spelling an end to independent living.

"Performing thorough preoperative evaluations aimed at identifying intraoperative and postoperative risks and complications and endeavoring to optimize the status of the patient's chronic medical conditions as much as possible before surgery can reduce surgical risk," she writes. "Successful surgical management of an older adult's health problems depends on the nurse's understanding of the age-related factors that may affect the outcome of normal surgical procedures."

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Physician's Briefing