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Mom with pneumonia, diabetes and coronary artery disease. Husband with early onset Alzheizmer's. I am so very tired, physically and emotionally. Stress is causing my diabetes to be out of control. I am under my doctor's care. We are currently trying to make the decision whether or not for Mom to have a quadruple bypass operation, or to let her live our her life with Congestive Heart Failure. She is 83. Her doctors have left the decision up to us (Mom, me and my siblings). She still has a sharp mind but at her age and with the diabetes not under control, I don't think surgery is the right answer for her. Any experiences or thoughts on this subject for me?

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Oh .. and she's be 91 in two months. She battles on!!
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Hope you thoroughly enjoy your two week vacation .. you've certainly earned it!!

Here's another story .. this time more positive towards surgery. Edna (my client) has a congestive heart condition (tho no heart failures, to date), high BP, recurrent UTIs (due, in part, to incontinence and a prolapsed rectum) with the ensuing battles of too many antibiotics and the risk of creating a superbug she'll never beat, onset diabetes, high cholesterol, and had a stroke 5 years ago, with resulting vascular dementia.

I'll make a much longer story short. She got gall stones and a vicious infection. The options were surgical (with least invasive procedures) or antibiotic treatments. Both carried high risk. She has a DNR, except for procedures that improve life (not just prolong it).

Opted for surgery, after much consideration. Simultaneous to the surgery one of her long term meds was discontinued. Cut to a month later. She's in better condition than she's been in for nearly four years. It's astounding.

So, yeah .. everyone is different. You just have to weigh out the pros and cons.

Best of luck, and let us know how it goes.
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Al is assisted living.
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Thanks but what is AL? She has land and they consider that as asset, it is wetlands. no water or sewer. My Mom's house has old in it badly as my Dad was tight with the money.Her house has a value , but the house is all one piece with the 97 acres.. I have spoke to Champlain Valley Office of Aging, they are not any help really. they say she owns assets with the land and house. I have no funds to fix up her house, get a engineer to deal with the town on a possible sub division on her house and have just the house with 2 acres, it would make more sense. There is only one spring here that I am on , my parents and my brother, there is no water, I have a septic mound cost me $14,000 in 1990 that is my sewer. It;s crazy, every way I try no help. Mom has tried every anti depressant in her lifetime,,, no results..
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If the anti depressant medication she's on isn't working, she should be seen by a geriatric psych or geriatrician and switched to one that might be better; there are lots of options out there. I've been told many times that with AL, you need to apply for NH when you're down to your last 6 months of funds. Check with the social work dept at the AL, or at your local council on aging.
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Mom's memory has gotten worst, she yo--yo's on her decisions and changes her mind, She can not comprehend much going on in her assets or liabilities. She has depression and is in Assisted Living and sleeps till 2-3 pm so she misses breakfast and lunch,, in her nightgown all day in her room. She will go without eating rather then get dressed and go downstairs by elevator with people who want to be her friend,Chronic depression runs in her family, She really has no will.The Assisted Living is close to $60,000 per year. She will not push her bracelet for help for anything,,, I know she is not taking a shower very often, I am not happy wit where she is staying but there are more worst ones, what a shame all the money being paid for her to have a good time, activities, road trips to local shopping centers, musicals up on the 9th floor overlooking Lake Champlain, I know when someone has depression, nothing can make them happy, I know money is going to run out. I do not know what to do,,,Her father quit eating as he wanted to die and he did, from not eating. Her brother hung himself at 60 years old and the note he left was he did not like getting older,,Mom has been on medication and it never works for depression. I have taken care of her and my Dad for 8 years. My Dad passed 2 years ago.. Her house needs repair to sell and the house comes with 97 acres of woods that are wetlands...I lay awake till 4am or later,,,,,their seems to be no options:(
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If Mom can make a decision, that is fine, but perhaps with family assistance and opinions.
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Yes, at her age, your mother is at risk for surgery option. As you have said, your mom still has a sharp mind, then let her make the decision.
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You need to get your own caregiver's health under control or you will not be able to help your Mom any longer. Perhaps your Mom needs to go to assisted living arrangements while you are mending yourself?
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THANKS STEPHAN, I AM ALSO GETTING SLACK FROM A GREEDY HALF BROTHER THAT DOES NOTHING, HE IS CONCERNED ABOUT MY MOM'S WILL. I TOOK HER TO A LAWYER AND HAD HIM FILE IT WITH THE COURTS, HE JUST FOUND OUT AND IS LIVID,,,, MOM HAS ALREADY GIVEN HIM $55,000. PLUS CO SIGNED FOR HIS HOUSE AS HIS DRINKING GOT HIM A DIVORCE AFTER 17 YEAR MARRIAGE,,,,
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I suspect that every case is different, and elderly people are all different. Some are much more resilient than others, and healthier, with better genes, and have a strong will to live. There are so many factors here that I think it may be an error to extrapolate from our won experiences based on this poster's question. Yes, diabetes is a complicating factor, but some elderly patients do well after surgery and continue to live active fulfilling lives. Yes, surgery and anesthesia are risky, but some risks pay off.

I have been told at least three times that my mother was too old for surgery and would probably not survive, but we decided to go ahead with various knee and hip replacements rather than have her bedridden. I have been told each time that she was going to be permanently mentally impaired from the anesthetic, but with patience and therapy she recovered.

We were lucky, and I would never counsel someone to do what we chose to, but good outcomes are possible. And after each episode I have been drained and exhausted, and my health has suffered, but I am working on taking care of myself too, and little by little things are getting better.
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Bypass will make the surgeon richer. Nothing more. Diabetes will complicate healing. My MIL had cataract surgery at 84, which aggravated her glaucoma and blew a hole in the retina. Then she insisted on having retina repair surgery and ended up with a cerebral hemorrhage. Don't do it.
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In his early 80s day's doctors wanted him to have a bypass. Dad refused. My entire family came down on me because I, was the only one he listened to and I needed to talk sense into him.

While in the hospital, I bumped into a friend visiting family, we shared stories,her dad had been a doctor and had passed away on the operating table for a heart operation. Most surgeries are successful, but I took this as a sign.

So when the family insisted that I was the only one dad listened to, I decided I needed to listen to dad and not talk him into something against his wishes. He lived till 93.

Try to figure out what is in her gut and follow that. There is no right and wrong. Whatever you choose commit to it, you will never know "what if".

My personal gut reaction, would be no surgery.

Best of luck.
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Wow, 2woods, I am so sorry. It is amazing how many other people are in situations that sound just like mine. I know exactly how you feel how that inheritance thing. I have four brothers who have already taken anything of any value from mom when dad died. They were living with me. When dad passed away, my siblings talked mom into going back to her house, promising to take care of her. Two months later, she was pleading to come back and this was after they already had most everything including her money. Now they hardly ever even come to see her or call her. I don't get anything for taking care of her. Not a dime. And the only thing that was my inheritance (her jewelery) was stolen by one of them. Grrrrr. Think when she is gone, I will do her funeral and wait to see how long before they find out. Not really, it makes you feel that way. It's been about 6yrs for me now. God bless you, you are a special person and I'm praying for you. Lots of hugs (((((( ))))))) to you.
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Yep I have to say that being a caregiver for your parents is the hardest job I have ever had. I am a very artistic person and sculpting is my background.It involves a lot of heavy lifting of rocks, granite, marble.,also heaven equipment.not to mention dealing with clients and art shows.. Really? This was a piece of cake compaired to the daily ritual of caregiving aging patents.I have been doing this for 4 years now, my Dad has passed, I had to give up my work, home, friends, and social life to continue caregiving my Mom, as know one else in the family would or wanted to take the time, Ofcourse they thank me all the time for being their for her ...Well of course ,I love her . But she has gotten herself ( and Me now ) into a negative ,just don't give a shit anymore attitude. I , for along time when my Dad passed tried to get her to do the creative things she used to do , but she just wasn't interested, even going to church, or having friends over, she just slides back to the negative, I joke with her and keep her up on current going ons ,but all she wants to do is DIE and go be with my dad. That is tough to deal with day after day....She is basically healthy, except for some dementia, she can not drive or cook... That is too dangerous now, also I have had to do the checking account and bill paying... The point is that now she has gotten stressed about living so long and doesn't understand why God won't take her , that she has come down with the shingles.....oh man...yeah.. Believe me , eat very well, lots of fruit vegetables, fish chicken, the health list can go on.... But when a person is not happy to be alive without there mate ( 70yrs. Married) and you try your best to help ..and come down with shingles...and I am getting tired out ....I have to wash, and change ,her depends, pooping is a BLAST litterly! Family and friends ask how is she doing... Well what about ME..... I have been doing this for along time with no time off... Come on family come by befor mom has passed! And if you are all looking for any inheritance ... Good Luck... It 's all mine , I worked for it ...you never cared to come by or visit....
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With my exp. my dad had surgery at i believe 79-80 on his back all surgeons want to do is operate however it caused his dementia to worsen he never really walked again was placed in a facility 6 weeks before he passed , my mother was his primary caregiver. operations at that age i would never consider again. I have seen it with many of the elderly and the outcome is going to be what it is to be, my dad had open heart surgery in his 60 and was so worth it you need to all sit down as a loving family and consider the pros and cons of what needs to take place .. surgery on the elderly is VERY DIFFICULT recovery process and also very much a strain on loved ones..
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Just remember (as you seem like a very caring person), you can only take care of others if you are healthy. If you always put your health and well-being second, eventually it will take it's toll. Seek assistance when possible. I hope you enjoy time away with your husband. Sounds like it will be just what you need!
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My mother has congestive heart failure, and at age 94, the doctors are only keeping her comfortable with medications. No CPR will be done if Mom gets worse. Surgery is too much of a risk for her at this point; again, only comfort is the issue. One family member is her POA and medical care directive option for her legal decisions.
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My husband has dementia but what is really the villan is his hearing, I read that Medicare will pay for an implant and 1/2 of the second, does anyone have 1st hand knowledge of this and what it takes to qualify. He is 68 and seems confused but I think it is mostly his hearing and it makes him anti-social.
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Good for you! Enjoy that vacation.
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Thank you to all who have responded. I truly appreciate your input. I am actively taking control of my diabetes and diabetic retinopathy. My husband, who is still able to enjoy life and I are going on a 2 week vacation just after Thanksgiving. Leaving Mom's care to my sister. God bless you all and may the Lord be with you in your care taking journey.
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daughter52, we are on a high-carb,low protein low fat all you can eat,no restriction lifestyle. My grandmother has been allowed to carb-up, eat sugar as much as she can pack away (as long as it is low /no fat) and the results are better for us than lo carb. She supplements with iron and vit D because she rarely eats meat.
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Hi so sorry you have this to deal with. My friends mum at 76yrs had a triple bypass 5mths ago she suffered a stroke during the operation but was lucky not to have any paralysis BUT a changed woman my friend almost had a breakdown after looking after her for just 3wks. Her mum changed and went into a deep depression she wont wash or eat properly they I dont think they had a choice as she sufferes a heart attack 10yrs ago but this woman was very active very social etc...
My mum has HP HC and diabetes I personally would not want my mum to have this done now as she just wouldnt recover.she also has dementia. My neighbour had a triple bypass at 84 and as she had no previous health problems lived to be 89 and recovered well? I guess it depends on how bad their health is to begin with?
I have too had to make a decision to step back now as ive got chest pains and am having tests done I know now that my health is getting worse and I need mum to go into care I think we will all get to that stage when enough is enough and we really need to look after ourselves now. Stress is not good for diabetes so you really need to watch this and take care of yourself!
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Sorry to hear of your distress and angst. I don't envy your spot, but I do agree with those that say that really number one priority is yourself, and you know it. If your mother is of clear reasoning, it is her decision, period. Surgery is bad for anyone at any age, she needs clear and precise prognosis of options. You can support her and her decisions, but it is her decision. Perhaps it is time to take a look at your own options, I know I had to do so when I was getting quite sick from caregiving and knew I'd be dead before my time and my mother would still be around. The best outcome for you and your mom, I pray.
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My mom is in the beginning stage of CHF. Her doctor says it could plateau or get worse. We all decided on a "DNR" scenario and are comfortable with that. Everyone, including Mom, agrees that it is better to enjoy what we have now instead of going to extreme measures. We are trying to meditate, walk, do PT, and live each day to the fullest. We take lots of pictures, my children call their grandmother, and we enjoy our cats--they love Mom. I know it is very hard to chill out--very hard! By thoughts are with you because I know what you are going through. One more suggestion--find a compassionate counselor for yourself. I did and it helps tremendously. All the best.
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I'm not sure this is your decision, as you say your mom has her wits about you. So you might just want to "let go". But if you decide you need to be part of the decision process, make sure that your mom talks to an anethesiologist about what the anethisia for this surgery is like (it apparently causes cognitive loss in elders sometimes) and talk to a physiatrist about what the rehab looks like (it's hard work). Been there and done that with both my husband and his mom. After the surgery, she decided no rehab and starved herself to death. Probably some dementia involved...was that from the surgery? No way of telling what it uncovered.
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Slow down, stop, take a deep breath, let it slowly, counting backwards from 10. I suggest that you learn to do some meditation exercises daily. If you don't know how, then Google can help you. You desperately need to take care of yourself. If mom is strong in mind, then let her decide. I recommend to NOT do surgery but then I am not there and I am not a dr. Just my opinion. At her age, I would not put her body through it. Sending you my love.
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Since she still has all her wits about her, it is her decision to make about surgery. At 83 yrs. she could live a long life yet, even with diabetes. Don't discount the greatest generation's ability to live. They went through much more difficult situations than a little diabetes and heart condition which can be greatly improved with surgery. I am speaking as a nurse who has an 87 yr. old who is currently putting caulking around our windows and works hard six days a week (even with dementia). God didn't give you anything you couldn't handle, so buck up and just handle it. That's what the rest of us do...
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I have similar observations with changing my mom's diet. By the advice of her diabetic nurse-counselor, I have put mom on a carb restricted diet (or carb budget as the nurse called it). I am starting to see lower blood sugars during the day and especially in the morning. My mom absolutely argues with me every step of the way, though. She hates budgeting her eating and we fight constantly. Talk about worn out. I feel like I would just like to move her to an assisted living facility. I wish she could afford it. That aside, the changed diet has been touted by many. do it if you can.
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If you choose not to do the surgery, please feel comfortable contacting me. My grandmother is 93 yrs old, she was on 6 different medications(and diabetic) ,kidneys failing and constant infections. She came to live with me 2 years ago, October 8th 2011. Since that date, I have changed her diet and not only does she not take insulin shots anymore, but she is now down to 5 mg of glipizide, and 112mg of levothyroxine,which sometimes fluctuates to 75 mg. Her cholesterol is now LOWER than when she was on the cholesterol lowering drugs! I have her cholesterol at 175 now! All from doing NOTHING different EXCEPT changing her diet. She used to be on meds for her kidneys,not anymore. I know she is going to continue to decline as we all will, but I feel like the quality of her life has changed enough that we will continue to do what we are doing. Her doctor told me he was "impressed".
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