Costly End of Life Surgeries: Are They Worth It?

By Ruby Cemental

It's really no secret, surgery and medical care services can be very expensive. So when it comes to doing surgery for a senior who is near the end of their life, many factors are taken into consideration. One of the most important factors in deciding to do a surgery is the cost. How much does surgery really cost? We're here to provide you with facts when it comes down to end of life surgeries.

Senior's bodies are very different than that of a younger person.

Their organs are weaker, bones are more brittle, digestive systems are slower, wounds/bruises don't heal as quickly, the list goes on and on. Because of this, surgery is extremely tough on their body. In fact, 65% of senior patients die within a year of having an end of life surgery, and surgical procedures have been shown to actually cause more harm than good.

Questions to consider:

  • What is my life expectancy without the surgery? 
  • What is my recovery time, and how much rehabilitation is required to get back to regular life?
  • How many extra years might my surgery give me to live?
  • What is the success rate for this surgery for people my age and with similar overall health?

These surgeries are usually paid by the government.

Ultimately, the government is the one paying for the surgery, so the senior often agrees since it will be no burden to them or their family. 85% of all end of life care is covered by government entities, including Medicare and Medicaid, and surgeries typically cost $60,000 each. That's extremely high for a surgery that is most likely completely unnecessary or even harmful to the senior. The hospitals receive the financial compensation and are therefore in favor of going through with the surgery. It makes you think, is the surgery really that great for the patient or are there ulterior financial motives at stake?

Questions to consider:

  • Am I financially able to afford the medical costs? 
  • If something goes wrong with the surgery, and ongoing medical support is needed, do I have a plan in place?

There are options available. 

Before agreeing with your loved one to go through with an end of life surgery, contemplate all the options and do your own private research before suggesting they go through with it. In most cases, the senior is better off without the surgery and will live longer without it.

Questions to consider:

  • What are my time constraints? Do I need to have the surgery immediately, or is there time to research and plan?
  • Are there support groups or others in my area who have faced the same choice? If so, should I speak with them to get their input?
  • What outcomes do I expect? Do these outcomes meet with reality?

As you are learning to deal with the changes that aging can bring, be patient with yourself, patient with your loved one, seek advice and answers to questions, and remember you are not in this alone. Contact a Caring Senior Service team near you today!

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Tags: Senior Health, Finances