I am not a big proponent for having surgery, as there are always risks, and as we get older there is always the concern that those risks may increase. However, times have changed and elective surgery is becoming more common, and in many people’s minds the benefits are outweighing the risks.
The thinking used to be that if you were 65+, and certainly if you were 80+, you were getting too old for surgery. If you had diabetes or took a lot of medications, it was too risky. Sure, heart surgery or vascular surgery might be a necessity in some cases, but other than that, one should avoid going under the knife.
Today’s thinking is much more liberal, in the respect that we are now in the age of minimally invasive surgery. It’s incredible what surgeons have learned to do with laparoscopes, small incisions, tiny cameras, and lately, robots The surgeries go more quickly, there is less anesthesia, less blood lost, less trauma, and quicker recovery. Now, it is not uncommon for some surgeons to regularly operate on people 90 years of age.
The question remains, if it isn’t a medical necessity for you to have surgery, should you? I have been thinking that there are more and more reasons to proceed. I’ll start with my dear mother-in-law. Like so many people in her 70s, she had developed an arthritic hip. It was becoming painful to walk, and the handicapped parking pass was essential equipment for any trip. When getting on and off planes, a wheelchair was always required. My mother-in-law was unhappy, and uncomfortable, as it seemed her body was wearing out. She opted for a total hip replacement, and I’m pleased to say that it has given her back her life.
She has now been on many trips to exotic places, walked along the Great Wall of China, and rolled around with grandchildren. That was not possible before the surgery. She did, however, hold onto the parking pass just in case.
Let’s contrast her story with that of the man from whom I recently rented my vacation house. He was painfully limping around with a bum knee. Could knee surgery repair his problem, and take away his pain? Certainly it would, but some physical therapy and a bit of recovery time would be involved too. Was it worth it? I would say definitely. He was hesitating because hes older. I thought to myself that this was hogwash.
Yes, there are risks. Today I read about a new super bug thats making its way from India into U.S. hospitals. At risk would be anyone who has surgery, or even a small cut or wound. There is no drug at the present time to beat it. That’s scary and gives one pause as to even visiting a hospital (thats where the bugs are!). However, I do believe the risk is low and the benefit of getting moving again is very high. You deserve active senior years. Do not let fear of surgery make you sedentary for the rest of your life.
None of this is meant to push you toward any surgery, any time, or with any doctor or hospital. Absolutely not! Do your research, get second opinions, check out a hospitals success rates, and infection rate. Don’t feel that elective surgery is only for the young. It could be your key to a new lease on life.