More than a decade ago, the Society for the Advancement of Geriatric Anesthesia (SAGA) was established with the goal of improving the perioperative care of the elderly. A geriatric anesthesia curriculum was created to guide physician anesthesiologists in taking care of geriatric patients. Despite these efforts, however, perioperative morbidity and mortality remains high in these patients. Since more than 55 percent of surgical procedures are conducted on patients aged 65 and older – a population that has shown tremendous growth in numbers – it is now time for a paradigm shift toward geriatric anesthesia as a specialized area of care.

The geriatric patient population presents distinct problems and challenges in the perioperative period that are not routinely addressed. Some of the challenges patients face are: cognitive dysfunction, loss of independence due to their inability to return to their...

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