As the population ages in Singapore, the number of elderly people undergoing major surgery is increasing.


SINGAPORE – Babe Lim broke her right shoulder and hip in July 2022 when she fell while getting out of her son’s car.

At her age of 94, she was at risk for surgery, but Kevin Ik, a consultant at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital (NTFGH), still recommended surgery, and Lim’s alternative is at least six weeks. pointed out that he would have been in bed or moved in a wheelchair.

However, the orthopedic surgeon said the great-grandmother’s physical strength would be severely weakened and could never recover.

Instead, Dr. Ik suggested that Mrs. Lim undergo two separate surgeries with a three-month recovery period in between.

“I said to him, ‘No, sir, do both at once,'” Mrs. Lim told The Straits Times.

As Singapore’s population ages, she is one of more seniors exposed to knives.

“In recent years, there has been a trend toward more elderly patients undergoing major surgery,” said Dr. Hau Kwan Yong, a senior consultant in General Surgery at Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

Dr Howe said the proportion of patients over the age of 80 undergoing major elective colorectal surgery has increased from about 15% five years ago to more than 20% in 2022.

Over the past three years, breast cancer surgery in this age group has increased from 4% to more than 10%, and knee replacement surgery has increased from 5% to 9%, he added.

Meanwhile, at Koutek Puat Hospital, the number of elderly patients undergoing colorectal cancer surgery increased by 30% between 2019 and 2022, and about 70% of these surgeries were elective.

Dr. Howe said longevity is part of the reason for this increase, noting that diseases such as knee osteoarthritis, hip fractures and cancer become more common with age.

Life expectancy for Singaporeans has increased from 72 years in 1980 to 83 years in 2021.

In April, Health Minister Ong Ye Keung said Singapore would become a “super-aged” society by 2026, with at least 21 percent of the population aged 65 and over.



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