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Post-surgical psychological problems: The impact on senior citizens and how to manage better.

2024-Jan-31 Antara

Surgical procedures, especially major categories such as cardiovascular procedures like bypass and angioplasty, orthopedic procedures like knee or hip replacement, and neurosurgical or gynecological surgeries, have a significant impact on both the mind and body of patients. More common among geriatrics, these surgeries have a longer recovery duration and impose many restrictions on the patient post-recovery.

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Depending on the type of surgery, the individual’s health before the procedure, the recovery process, and the overall success of the surgery, patients, seniors in particular, could be impacted mentally and emotionally post-surgery. Post-surgical psychological problems refer to emotional and mental health issues that individuals may experience following a surgical procedure.

Common post-surgical psychological problems

Surgical procedures can be physically, and emotionally demanding, and post-surgical psychological problems can arise during the recovery process. These issues can range from mild and temporary to severe and long-lasting.

Anxiety and depression

Undergoing surgery is stressful resulting in anxiety and depression before and after surgery. From the anticipation of the procedure to the outcomes and complexities, a lot plays on the mind. There is also concern about pain, changes in physical health, and mobility limitations which can impact their daily activities. Depression is relatively frequent post-surgery, and the symptoms include low mood, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, and negative thoughts.

Frustration and outbursts

Persistent low moods, loss of energy and interest, and feelings of frustration due to limited mobility and dependencies and common post-surgery. Some seniors also experience chronic pain that can impact their mental well-being.

Cognitive impact

Seniors, especially those with pre-existing cognitive conditions like Dementia are susceptible to confusion or delirium after surgery that results in psychological distress. In case of traumatic or unexpected surgeries, some patients develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) that results in intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks.

Overall mental health

Pre-existing mental health conditions, adapting to lifestyle changes, social isolation, increased vulnerability, concerns about mortality, and the inability to carry out daily activities without any dependencies, the elderly have a lot on their mind after surgery. All of these have an impact on their mental health and emotional well-being. Every individual reacts and deals with these changes differently.

Coping with post-surgical psychological problems

While the needs of every individual may vary, it is critical to be mindful of their mental health and ensure necessary care is provided. This is imperative because if left untreated, it can have serious consequences on not just their mental wellness but their physical health as well. Ignoring or leaving post-surgical psychological problems untreated can result in -

● Increased risk of complications and a slower recovery.

● Aggravation of existing chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

● Intensified depression and anxiety leading to deeper emotional distress, feelings of hopelessness, and increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

● Development of chronic mental health issues that impact long-term mental well-being.

● Amplified pain perception that makes pain management more challenging.

Implementing coping mechanisms can help manage these challenges and promote a holistic recovery process. This includes pre- and post-operative counseling to help seniors understand the challenges they may face and how they can develop coping mechanisms. Open communication with care providers and strong support from friends and family also help in overcoming challenges and faster recovery. Establishing realistic expectations for the recovery process, maintaining social connections, practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and deep breathing exercises, and engaging in activities that bring joy are all effective ways to alleviate post-surgical psychological problems.

Care-at-home services are a great option for post-surgical care and support to prevent or manage psychological issues. Services like Antara Care at Home offer professional assistance and medical support within the senior’s home. Whether it is assistance with daily activities, medication and pain management, mobility support, or companionship, home care services have it all taken care of.

Seniors recovering post-surgery will hugely benefit from care-at-home services as they offer assistance, companionship, and support as needed by an individual. All home care plans are tailored to address the unique individual needs of senior citizens. Care at home services contribute to a holistic and personalized approach to post-surgical care for seniors that enhances physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, and empowers seniors to maintain their independence and quality of life at home.

To learn more about Antara’s range of Care at Home services, dial 98114 41111.