Background: Undergoing acute high-risk abdominal surgery (AHA) is often associated with reduced chances of survival and great risk of adverse outcomes.

Aim: The aims of this study were to explore and describe elderly patients' experiences undergoing AHA surgery, and to investigate self-reported quality of life (QOL) and relatives’ views of the patients QOL.

Materials and Methods: 22 AHA surgery patients aged ≥ 75 years were included for qualitative interviews during the first postoperative week and follow-up after six months with a health-related QOL questionnaire.

Results: Patients had difficulty remembering details of their acute hospitalization. They recalled being in a painful and life-threatening situation and worrying about their future everyday life. Six months after surgery the overall QOL was good in the majority of patients.

Conclusions: Elderly AHA surgery patients’ lack of memory before surgery and their worries afterwards should be major focus points for nurses to improve information regarding hospital stay and discharge.

Keywords: abdominal surgery, acute, elderly patients, patients’ experiences, quality of life