What can we do when the doctors say grandma is too old for surgery?

Asked by

The doctors say she is too old for surgery and recommend she be placed into hospice and wait to die. She otherwise healthy and of sound mind. Any recommendations and what should we expect?

Answers 1 to 10 of 12
What a terrible predicament. She is old, but I don't know if anyone is too old to have their bones fixed. Perhaps they can stabilize in another way. I would seek a second opinion as well as calling hospice. The second opinion is just to get an idea on what might make her more comfortable in her time here.
My mother had very successful hip surgery at 101. She is now 103 and walks fine with a walker. Waiting to die should not be an option for her. Seems like there is nothing to lose in having surgery. Rena
cmb, what is wrong with her? I didn't read anything about her except that you said she had 'mobility' issues What does that mean exactly?
What kind of surgery?
Mother has a hip repair at 99, and, now, at 100 walks with a cane, and may not always need that.
I wonder what surgery your g'ma need.
I would recommend a second opinion.
Is this surgery to remove a tumor in the brain that hasn't affected her cognition yet? Cancer surgery? Hip repair? You say that she is otherwise healthy -- other than what? What kind of surgery is it that her doctor thinks she is "too old" for? And how old is she?
The doctor has told my 96 year old mother she has stage four kidney disease. The doctor says she would not be able to stand the treatment. She has lost most of her sight to glacoma and she now is too weak to walk with her walker. She can only stand a short while. The doctor has put her on hospice care. Should she still get some treatment for the kidney condition?
((((((Peachie)))))) Have you trusted this doctor all along? If you question his opinion, can you consult another doctor?. Without knowing anything more, it does seem that you mother has declined to the point where more treatment is not an option. Has she expressed any views on what the doctor has said? Hospice care will see that she is as comfortable as possible. She is a good age. My mother had hip surgery at 99, but her pre-op tests showed that she was in A1 condition, and she has survived it well. This is not the case with your mother. It is a hard when doctors say there is nothing more they can do. We always hope for the best, and that this problem can be fixed too, but eventually the time comes when it can't. I honestly think that hospice is the best option for your mum. Let us know how it all unfolds. I saw from your profile that you have several difficult things to deal with - brother, husband as well as your mother. (((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))) Joan
Top Answer
Peachie - this must be so difficult for you. So what would you want a treatment to do? Have you spoken with an the nephrologist who evaluated your mom? Kidney disease is usually considered a chronic condition rather than a terminal disease and that can make a big difference in what can be done. Has she been on a diaylsis ? Are her kidneys doing any filtration at all? At some point, there is nothing that can be done. It sounds like your mom has other issues as she has really no mobility and can't stand on her own so she likely has circulatory issues too. What is her cognition like....can she accurately determine pain levels and where pain is?
All these are factors that the doc's are using to evaluate her.

Realize that organ or any inner-cavity surgery is considered very invasive with low recovery after 60 days for the advanced elderly that is why it's not usually done. Plus the anaethesia risk, if you can even find an anesthesiologist who will do a very elderly patient. This is very very different than orthopedic surgery for hip replacement or bone repair (my mom had rotor cuff surgery).

My mom is about your mom's age and she could not withstand an invasive procedure (the surgery would likely be fine but she would die in recovery) and she is still able to stand and walk about with a walker and go to potty.She is in a NH and pretty cognitive as she has Lewy Body Dementia. Nevertheless, paperwork has been filed via an AD - advanced directive - that nothing is to be done surgery or transfusion wise for her and her hospice group has been selected so when the day comes that her gerontologist thinks that is appropriate, hospice gets called. No drama, no meeting, just move her onto the final phase. For your mom, the doc's want her in a hospice program as they feel they cannot do anything for her as their practice is geared to curing and healing and in their opinion that is not going to happen. Hospice is all about comfort care but realize that if she is on hospice (which Medicare pays for), there will be no payment made for any doctor appointments or medical evaluations or treatments that could possibly "cure" her. Surgery would be considered a cure and not allowed under hospice. She can only see the doc's within hospice. Contact and speak with hospice so that you an understand what's involved and why.

But keep in mind, that if she is on hospice and you do other care for her - like you find a surgeon to do surgery - that Medicare could deny the claim and you or whomever signed her into the hospital can be made financially responsible.

My father had lung cancer, severe COPD, and Alzhiemer's. He was in his late seventies when he broke his hip in a fall. They did the hip surgery on him, but he never woke up after surgery (he died the day following surgery). Sometimes it seems the medical doctors are caught between a rock and a hard place -- if they do surgery, the patient may not recover; if they don't do surgery, the quality of life would suffer drastically. I am sorry for your situation ... I recommend a second opinion and I would insist on knowing why surgery is not recommended.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support