Seniors face obesity battle: Bariatric surgery can help
Aging comes with certain advantages. As we reach retirement, life slows down a little. We have more time to spend with our spouses, our children and our grandchildren. We have the time and funds to take that vacation we never got around to, finish our “to do” lists or pick up that new hobby we always wanted to tr y.
But aging also comes with certain disadvantages, most notably when it comes to our health. Our joints ache a little more than they used to. Our diabetes requires more and more insulin shots to control. Our hearts start to warn us about those years when we didn’t eat exactly as we should or exercise as much as we might have. Obesity can make these problems significantly worse for seniors.
Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States in all age groups, and seniors are no different. In fact, the struggle to control weight can be harder for seniors as their metabolism slows down and their activity is limited by the inevitable effects of aging. Before many seniors realize it, they find themselves on handfuls of pills a day to control their blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heartburn and general discomfort.
Many overweight seniors experience frustration and hopelessness with their weight and associated medical conditions. They feel there is no way to stop this slippery slope of health issues. But there are options available to help patients over 65 control their weight, and one of the best tools is bariatric surgery. Bariatric, or weight loss, surgery decreases the size of the stomach and changes the body’s hormonal balance to curb appetite, teach appropriate portion control and help patients manage their weight.
Studies show that obese seniors who undergo bariatric surgery can experience just as much weight loss as younger patients. Also, seniors do not suffer from any significant increases in complications from the surgery, meaning that it is safe even in an older population. Although many older patients have been told that they cannot qualify for this life saving operation because of their age, the truth is there is no age limit for bariatric surgery. Any patient who is healthy enough to undergo the operation is a candidate.
Bariatric surgery can help patients lose more than half of their excess weight. This generally leads to a cure or remission of many medical conditions, or a significant reduction in medications. Because of the obvious health benefits, many insurance companies, including Medicare, pay for the operation.
Maintaining a healthy weight and curing weight-related health conditions could help you live years longer than you might otherwise. You can take that vacation. You can try that new hobby. You can run after your grandchildren with more energy and less pain. You can have a new lease on life after retirement.
AAMC Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery is here to help. Free weight loss surger y seminars are held in Easton and Annapolis. To learn more about what you can gain with weight loss surgery, visit askAAMC.org/ReadyToGain.
Courtney Doyle, MD, is bariatric surgeon with Anne Arundel Medical Center Weight Loss and Metabolic Surgery.
DR. COURTNEY DOYLE