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Getting older affects your anaesthesia

Getting older affects your anaesthesia – hospital displays and information
Older people are more likely to need a procedure requiring anaesthesia. They are also more likely to have complications from anaesthetics, and this is the focus of ANZCA National Anaesthesia Day being held on Monday, October 16.
The public will get the chance to talk about “ageing and anaesthesia” with anaesthetists and other medical staff at displays being held at the following hospitals on October 16, which marks the anniversary of the day in 1846 when ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated publicly, in Boston.
• Whangarei Hospital – main foyer, 8.30am-2.30pm (focus on ageing and anaesthesia, and on advance care planning, with hands-on activity involving an airway mannequin, a spinal model and ultrasound model).
• North Shore Hospital – main foyer, 7.30am-4pm (displays will focus on “demystifying anaesthesia”, ageing’s effect on anaesthesia, the importance of advance care plans, and the health benefits of exercise prehabilitation in managing frailty).
• Auckland City Hospital – main atrium foyer, 9am-3pm (display will focus on the prehabilitation of elderly patients, with instructors from the never2old programme and hospital dieticians available; plus a simulation mannequin and anaesthetic machines for demonstrations).
• Middlemore Hospital and Manukau Super Clinic – main foyers, 9am-4pm (particular focus on advance care plans, plus videos, demonstrations with an anaesthetic machine and a blood pressure machine for the public to use).
• Tauranga Hospital – foyer, 8am-4pm (staffed information stand).
• Palmerston North Hospital – main foyer, 9am-3pm (focus on both ageing and anaesthesia and on anaesthesia generally, with demonstrations using an anaesthetic machine and mannequin).
• Wellington Hospital – main atrium foyer, 9am-noon (display will feature demonstrations with an anaesthetic machine and simulation mannequin).
• Christchurch Hospital – Medical School foyer, 8am-noon (display will feature demonstrations with an anaesthetic machine, simulator beeps, video laryngoscope and ultrasound, plus information videos).
• Dunedin Hospital – main foyer, 10am-3pm (a focus on pre-operative fitness plus demonstrations using an intubating mannequin and equipment available for the public to have their blood pressure checked).

All these staffed interactive displays will also include poster boards, patient information fact sheets and videos.
Most other public hospitals and some private hospitals around New Zealand will display posters and patient information about ageing and anaesthesia.
A video featuring a specialist anaesthetist discussing issues of ageing and anaesthesia with an elderly patient is available at
The Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) promotes National Anaesthesia Day annually to raise public awareness of anaesthesia generally and the range of work anaesthetists do, focusing on a different aspect of anaesthesia each year.

With the theme of “ageing and anaesthesia”, the key message this year is that as patients get older, they are more likely to have medical conditions and be on medications that can complicate their anaesthesia – and that it is important to discuss these with their anaesthetist.

Questions that older patients may wish to discuss include:
• How could my medical conditions and medications affect my anaesthesia?
• Will my memory and thinking be affected by anaesthesia?
• Is an operation the best option? What are the risks and benefits of an operation and anaesthesia compared with alternative treatment options?
• How can I prepare for my operation?

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