Seniors and Anesthesia




Seniors and Anesthesia

More than 12 percent of the U.S. population is older than 65 – and more than half of those will undergo at least one surgical procedure as senior citizens. In the coming years, the number of retirees, as well as the number of them having surgery, is expected to grow substantially.

Senior citizens face increased risks for complications during and after surgery. These may include postoperative delirium, a condition that causes some patients to become confused and disoriented for up to a week after surgery, and postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD), which is defined as having long-term problems with loss of memory, learning and the ability to concentrate.

Your anesthesiologist can discuss these risks with you and answer any questions you may have about having surgery as a senior citizen. In addition, ASA has many resources in this section to help prepare you for your procedure:

Important Tips for Seniors and Their Caregivers Prior to Surgery 

Surgical Checklist for Seniors PDF 

Medication Checklist PDF

Alzheimer's Disease and Anesthesia

Geriatric Anesthesia Q & A

Roger and Janet: The Story of a Patient and His Caregiver 

Kristy: Managing Delirium from a Caregiver’s Perspective 

Helpful Links

What is Anesthesiology

Total care of the surgical patient before, during and after surgery.


Anesthesia Topics Quick Links

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In Case of Emergency

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Come Prepared

Ask your anesthesiologist questions about what to expect before, during, and after your procedure.


The ASA does not employ physician anesthesiologists on staff and cannot respond to patient inquiries regarding specific medical conditions or anesthesia administration. Please direct any questions related to anesthetics, procedures or treatment outcomes to the patient’s anesthesiologist or general physician.