Medical Alerts for Seniors with a  Gastric Sleeve

Medical Alerts for Seniors with a Gastric Sleeve

time icon 6 min read update icon Sept. 28, 2019


As we continue to live longer and longer, our weight becomes a critical factor in determining just what kind of life we can expect to lead throughout our golden years. Gastric sleeve procedures not only help those of us over 60 years of age shed unwanted weight, but also boost our social and psychological interactions for a win-win-win in overall health. Physical improvements aside, weightloss operations may decrease our risk of comorbidities while simultaneously lessening the amount of money we have to pay in prescription drug costs.

Gastric Sleeve Overview

Gastric sleeve surgery is the removal of approximately 80% of the stomach in order to reduce food intake and subsequently reverse obesity. One should note that obesity is most often associated with comorbidities such as type II diabetes, hypertension, stroke, cancer, heart disease, pulmonary embolisms, renal failure, gout and depression, among others.

This type of surgery is best for those with a BMI in excess of 40, and is an irreversible procedure that results in drastic weight loss. Ultimately, and as with all weight loss procedures, the risk of complications is to be taken seriously, especially since food intake and activity will need to be closely monitored alongside pain management by a trained medical professional.

Gastric Sleeve Impairment

Gastric sleeve procedures result in an immediate reduction in food and nutrient intake. This type of sudden weight loss has the potential to result in long-term nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to long-term bone loss or similar impairments such as anemia or osteoporosis. Working with a primary care provider to ensure a diet rich in iron may be enough to combat broken bones or feelings of fatigue, but it is wise to also enlist the help of a certified nutritionist.

Additional impairments include pain immediately following the surgery, as well as soreness from muscles not having had the proper exercise for years or decades. Immediate weight loss could also lead to overconfidence and misjudging one’s fitness levels. This could lead folks to increasing the amount they exercise or switch from pool-based workouts to weights, which should not be done until six months after surgery.

Finally, patients may experience mental anguish as they are giving up many types of food, which may have served as a source of stress relief. This may be what seniors want long-term in order to correct diabetes and similar ailments, but they may still face depressive episodes around feeling unsated and eating less comfort food.

Those who elect to undertake a gastric sleeve procedure may also experience the following impairments:

  • Drastic weight loss
  • Muscle soreness
  • Incision pain
  • Remorse or regret
  • Bone weakness
  • Fatigue from anemia
Medical Alert Benefits

Medical alert devices for those recovering from sleeve gastrectomy operations should be strongly considered regardless of age.

As with any elective weight loss surgery, the excess weight loss can leave the body feeling more fatigued and at a greater risk of nutrient deficiency problems caused by anemia or bone loss. This means that falls could be an issue immediately after surgery, but less so once the senior is able to undertake a more robust exercise regime. Thus, a trial in-home medical alert system might be best for when the senior immediately leaves the hospital. This system could be upgraded to a more mobile option with fitness tracking as the patient increases in mobility.

Additionally, a long-range or GPS tracking option might be nice, as this alert system will not only give loved one's peace of mind about a newly-mobile senior, but also enable the user to track activities and socialize on platforms that encourage fitness tracking. 

Gastric sleeve symptoms:

  • Psychological and mood changes with food intake
  • Decreased socialization
  • Dietary changes
  • Muscle atrophy and mobility issues
Safety Without Medical Alerts

Of course, post-op surgery patients may elect to forgo medical tracking and monitoring, but for seniors, there are some key strategies to consider in order to make a full recovery.

  • Complications: Older patients should more closely monitor their feelings and physical ailments after surgery. Additionally, they should work weekly, it not daily, with their surgeon, physical therapist or nutritionist to avoid extending their recovery time.
  • Falls and mobility challenges: Excessive weight loss can lead to muscle atrophy, and changes in diet can lead to bone loss.Combined, these conditions can result in more serious falls. Thus, seniors should take extra precautions when moving around their homes or neighborhoods after surgery.
  • Activity tracking: Slowly increasing exercise is key for long-term recovery and maintaining weight loss. Seniors should watch how much and how frequently they exercise, though, so as not to put their cardiovascular or pulmonary systems under undue stress.
Gastric Sleeve Precautions:
  1. Do not overexert yourself:The benefits of gastric sleeve surgery can feel immediate, with folks losing lots of weight and improving their overall quality of life. That said, improvements in mobility, psychological functioning and mood conditioning may not be fully realized until nearly ten years post-op.
  2. Prepare mentally prior to surgery: Weightloss surgeries are not to be undertaken lightly as they have the potential to cause significant emotional, physical and social changes. Those considering these types of procedures should not only seek out a reputable surgeon, but also trustworthy counsel in the form of either a support group or therapist.
  3. Manage expectations: While the research shows there is no significant increase in post-op complications between younger patients and those over 60 years of age, the latter cohort may not see similar decreases in excess weight loss until nearly two years after surgery.
Gastric Sleeve Medical Alerts Conclusion

Any post-surgery patient, regardless of age, should consider a means to monitor not only their recovery, but their progress toward a more fulfilling lifestyle. Seniors have been shown to experience a 50% reduction in cancer risks and see near-immediate reductions in the number of prescriptions they have to take after undergoing a gastric sleeve procedure. Medical alert devices, even if used only as a short-term trial, can encourage the post-op patient to slowly increase their mobility while still following their physician’s plan to combat potential complications.

Once seniors gain more confidence in their recovery and embarks on a more long-term, sustainable diet and exercise regime, medical alerts can double as activity trackers and fitness monitors. Patients are cautioned to pace themselves, of course, but online platforms may encourage more positive socializing through daily step competitions or similar activities.

Kate Papenberg - Senior Advisor

Kate is senior researcher with Grandfolk® providing in-depth product and service reviews to empower senior buying decisions.