Key Questions to Ask Your Physicians

During your meeting with your physician anesthesiologist before surgery, be sure to talk about any health problems you might have, all the medications you take, including nutritional or herbal supplements, and any concerns or fears you might have about your surgery. Describe any surgeries you’ve had and any problems you may have experienced with anesthesia in the past. Also talk about any memory problems or thinking problems you may have experienced after having anesthesia.

Questions and Steps:

  • Ask your physician to conduct a pre-surgery cognitive test — an assessment of your mental function. The physician can use the results as a baseline for comparison after surgery.
  • Be sure your caregiver or person who spends the most time with you stays with you as you recover, carefully observes your physical and mental activity after surgery and reports anything troubling to your physician.
  • Check with your physician before taking medications after surgery that can affect your nervous system, such as those for anxiety, seizures, muscle spasms and difficulty falling asleep.
  • If you wear hearing aids or glasses, ask that they be made available to you as soon as possible after the procedure.
  • Request a recovery room with a window if possible, so you can tell whether it’s day or night.
  • If you will be staying overnight in the hospital, pack a family photo, a clock and a calendar, or other familiar objects from home, to help you readjust.

Read more about the aging brain and anesthesia at for This Moment.


Date of last update: May 16, 2023