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My Dad is in a nursing home and very active. He has a heart valve problem that has been stable for a few years. Last night he complained about chest pains and he was shaking. He was transferred to the ER. Cardiologist called today, and if all goes as expected, they are planning on putting in a pacemaker tomorrow afternoon.


Dad’s heart rate is too slow, and the Doc said it is an electrical problem.


Anyone with experience with an elderly person having this done? What is the recovery time?

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My mom (79) had a pacemaker placed 10 years ago and just last month had an replacement done. The only problem we had was someone telling her it needed to be done in 2 weeks and then the doctor's office trying to schedule something 2 months away. I was not happy about that and it took a lot of phone calls to get someone to take the urgency seriously (and no one called to say--"well, it's not as urgent as 2 weeks because of XYZ so it's fine to have the replacement next month"). I was acting on the information I was given and was starting to panic that no one seemed concerned about getting my mom's pacemaker replaced in that time frame.

It was an outpatient procedure. I took her to the hospital about 7:30 am and we were home later that afternoon. She said she was in some pain the first day or so after but didn't need any painkillers beyond Tylenol. She did complain about the dissolvable stitches itching after a week or so.

She now has a transmitter which collects data every night and sends it to her doctor. That's pretty cool especially since her last device was so rare here that it was initially hard to schedule checks on it and we had to schedule it when a company rep brought in the equipment (she had it done in a different State; I'm assuming it would have been more common back there for some reason). One of her doctors said there were only 3 people in NM that had the same pacemaker as she did. We did eventually find someone here who could check it without needing a company rep but I am glad her new one collects and transmits data on its functioning every day.

She doesn't really appreciate it when I refer to her as a cyborg, lol.

ETA: Glad to see that it went well!
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Reply to OnlyChildAlone
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I am a 93 yr old man and I had a pacemaker put in 15 yrs ago.
The operation was done under a local anesthetic and I went home the next day .
I have since had three replacements with better units.
My pacemaker can now be programmed to suit my state of health .
Apart from a yearly check I can forget about it .
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Reply to shannow58
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Thanks for asking. He has it placed and it went great. He stayed overnight after it was placed. His heart rate is up from 42 to 70. His mood energy and color are good. He is going out of his room for meals now.
He is in a nursing home, but has Optima health nurse practitioners visit home often. They always go if there is a hospitalization. They had seen him on a Friday and things were normal. Saturday he went to the ER, so it happened really fast. The NP said he was very lucky that he was able to get to the ER and get it taken care of.
He has already read the instruction book and is telling everyone what his limitations are. Like he has to be careful when traveling. 😄
Gotta love him!
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Reply to PrairieLake
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JoAnn29 Nov 17, 2018
Glad it worked out. I know where they cut can be painful. Nice his insurance sends out nurses,
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How did he get on PrairieLake? Hope it all went smoothly.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I am a 93 yr old man and I have had a pacemaker for 15 yrs ,
Thats the original and two replacements.
The op is done under a local anesthetic and the patient is awake all the time and providing there are no complications he will be home the same day or the next .
Dont worry and dont let him worry .
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Reply to shannow58
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Yes. The devices are quite small and therefore the surgery isn't too bad. Mom needed to be in the hospital for a couple days when her original one was surgically implanted in 1993. Her pacemaker was in use most of the time and her's would last about 6 years. Replacing the battery in future is a day surgery. When mom had her third battery replaced at the age of 87, her heart stopped during the procedure. They were able to restart it immediately. She went home later that day after a little rest and a delicious cup of soup provided by the hospital. My only caution is that at age 90, an ordinary pacemaker is fine, but one that includes a defibrillator could be problematic in future as you might have to disarm it which usually must be done in the cardiologist's office. My dad, needed a new pacemaker so when that was done at the age of 89, they removed the defibrillator type and replaced it with an ordinary pacemaker. That was a day surgery and he recovered smoothly from that. When he passed away about a year later from something not related to his heart, I was grateful that the difibrillator was no longer there as it would have continued to jolt him in the chest until someone disarmed it. Hope this information helps.
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Reply to lynina2
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My only advice is if your Dad is left handed it should go on the right side. That is what my husband's brochure said. The doctor and I had a "discussion" about it. He wanted to put it on the left side even though the instructions said different. I won and the doctor still remembers me.
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Reply to MaryKathleen
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MaryKathleen Nov 14, 2018
I didn't mention the doctor wanted to put it on the left side because it was easier and quicker for him. Fooey on my husband.
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Pacemaker recovery is quick. My DH was 94 when his was put in, and he had 3 leads instead of the usual 2.
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Reply to RayLinStephens
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Getting a pacemaker is a GREAT thing, you will see a positive change in a few weeks and wish it was done sooner. Both my parents (mid 80's) got pacemakers within a week of each other and at the time there was a great deal of uncertainty but we soon found out it is a very routine procedure with positive results.
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Reply to JimMWeymo
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Almost 5 years ago my Dad's heart rate started dropping to dangerous levels. He had early dementia at the time but was still pretty with it. The dr said he should have a pacemaker or he would have heart failure and pass away eventually. He decided initially to have the pacemaker.. then backed out. He didn't want to prolong his life any more since he knew he had dementia. It was heartbreaking at the time.. I think I have some posts here about it. We put him on hospice.

Well.. here we are almost 5 years later and he is still going strong and is a memory care now.. without the pacemaker...

Please don't make a decision based on my dad's outcome.. it is all about what your dad wants to. do.. and everyone's situation is different.

If the issue of pacemaker ever comes up again... it will be hard.. but I will do what I know my dad wants.
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Reply to katiekay
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Yes! My mother had a pacemaker inserted at the age of 92. It went well, but she doesn't remember she has one and still asks about the "bump" under her skin a year later.
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Reply to Resentfully
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My mom, at age 92, with vascular dementia and CHF, was taken to the hospital because she became unresponsive. It turned out that her heart rate had dropped precipitously.

We discussed if a pacemaker was a good idea; my brother (POA) asked mom what she thought and after some thought she said "yes".

So we had it done. She had a device in her NH room that monitored her heart rate; we made it clear that we were not going to transport her anywhere for testing, etc.

I was initially against the idea of a pacemaker, but that was based on a misunderstanding of how it functioned. It did not keep her alive in any way when her respiratory system was failing.
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Reply to BarbBrooklyn
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