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My mother is 71 and an alcoholic. She is fairly weak and eats little. Last week she fell and broke two fingers. Now the doctors say she needs surgery on the fingers and it is scheduled for this Friday. My parents say its a same-day thing and she will be sent home afterward. I am concerned that she is not up for this due to her weakness and it's probably a risky recovery. Her blood is very thin. Also, I believe she will not stop drinking, up until the surgery and during recovery. My experience so far is that the medical community turns a deaf ear to the alcoholic thing and just brushes it aside. Last year she ended up in the ER and I told them up front she is an alcoholic, and she ended up going into withdrawl there, and it was not pleasant. Anybody have any thoughts on the upcoming surgery? I just spoke with her and I know she is hesitant. She is talking about taking off the bandaging, and cancelling the surgery.

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One thing that you have in your favor it that she admits she's an alcoholic. For many people, it's hard to convince the doctor of this because the patient won't cooperate. However, you are right that many doctors don't take this seriously. My neighbor went through terrible withdrawal after breaking a hip. I believe that was worse for him than the hip fracture, but the medical staff didn't seem interested in helping him cope long term. That was many years ago, however.

It's much more well known now that many "sweet old ladies" are alcoholics. For your mom to get the best treatment the doctor and the anesthesiologist must know this. Maybe a local anesthetic with a lesser surgery is possible. The main thing is to make sure the medical staff knows what they are dealing with. They may opt for one type of anesthetic over another if they have all the facts.

If anyone is between a rock and a hard place it's you. Do your best to communicate the facts with the medical staff and then give your mom the best support you can. That's about all you can do.
Take care of yourself, too.
Carol
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Just my experience in dealing with alcoholic parents - my father is 80, has dementia and parkinsons, and is alcoholic. For my own sanity, I attend Al Anon, and have for over 13 years. Not only has it helped ME deal with family alcoholism, it's helping me deal with the stress of caring about aging parents. You really learn there's only so much you can do. We have to take care of ourselves too.
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You do need to get in the anesthesiologist's face about the alcohol.

They may barely put her out for the surgery - just give her something to make her drowsy, along with a local. It's so much safer than it used to be.

Are the fingers shattered? If not, just tape them to a splint and let them heal, like you do with toes! It's a hard one.
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Alcoholism is very common with geriatrics. I went through this with my mother. Since I moved in with her I only give her two small glasses of sherry in the evening and that is it. She has put on 30 lbs and has her appetite back. Alcohol is an appetite suppressant . I think I would make sure the surgeon and anesthesiologist know all the necessary info. about your mum's history and let them make the decision about whether she should have surgery or not. I understand your stress.
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Thank you for the thoughtful responses. We had an appointment with another one of her doctors today, and he is very concerned about her ability to be strong enough for the surgery. He wants to admit her to the hospital ASAP so she has about 3-4 days to be rested and prepared. I think also so that she won't be able to drink. Her blood results came back today from some extensive testing, and everything was pretty good except her liver and some other things knocked out of whack because of that, like sodium/electrolytes. So we are hoping a hospital bed is available and she can be admitted. I am hoping it will give her a few days to reflect on her decisions over the past year, and that she will think about getting stronger and not making excuses as to why she has turned to alcohol. At this point I can add starting a search for an assisted living facility of some type to my "to do" list because she is not far from there if she does not improve, soon!
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Since your mom is an alcoholic 3-4 days may not be enough to get her into decent shape for surgery. Will she be drinking during these 3-4 days? Quitting cold turkey is not a good idea.

Also, an alcoholic has much different tolerance levels than a nonalcoholic does when it comes to anesthesia. The anesthesiologist must be informed that your mom is an alcoholic.

I am familiar with this. I am an alcoholic, sober 16 years. I have had surgeries while sober and I was told early on to inform the anesthesiologist that I was a recovering alcoholic. The first surgery I ever had after getting sober I woke up in the middle of for several seconds. I remember to this day someone in the surgery saying, "Whoa, she's way too awake." It was after this experience that I was told to inform the anesthesiologist about my alcoholism. We just have higher tolerance levels.

Good luck to your mom :-)
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I'm not sure what country you live in but I'm from Canada and Assisted Living is very much like living on ones own. It is a small suite in a communal living facility. Residents are on their own in their suite so if they drink alcohol and fall no one will know about it right away. A Long Term Care facility is more extended care. I wish you the best of luck!
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Thanks everyone for the responses. The doctors have declared she is too weak for surgery and some bloodwork readings need to improve. Family doctor sent her to the ER. If you can believe it, she and my dad arrived there at 5 pm, sat in the waiting room until around midnight, and then finally saw a doctor around 1 am. They gave her fluids and ran some tests, then booted her and my dad around around 4 am. There is no food, not even vending machines, in the ER. Dad has mild dementia. So, after 11 grueling hours in the ER with no food he got to drive mom home in the pitch black. The nurses told them there were 6-7 people waiting for that ER bed.
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Houndmother: Thanks for your response. I have considered doing that as well, to help myself deal with things. My mother's surgery ended up being delayed about 10 days because so much of her blood work came back bad as a result of the alcohol. She spent a night in the ER, and the ER doctor suggested she go to a rehab facility, which she refused. That was the last day my father drank, he has had nothing for a month now. Mom managed to scale back to one or two glasses of wine a day (that I know of). The surgery was re-scheduled and successful. Mom started anti-depressants last week. Depression is truly the root of the problem. So, I think things are looking up for us. My dad's neurologist believes dad is in early stages of either Parkinsons or Lewy Body dementia, but it's not a "sure" thing. A lot of his problems have been a result of the alcohol, and he is slowly improving since he quit. Thanks much for your input. I'm hoping my parents can hold it together. We shall see.
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Yikes!!! This is the Health Care system?
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