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GM - Mom will need a new pacemaker battery in 2 yrs. She will be 95 yrs old at that time. I am her only caretaker for over 7 yrs now and it has not been a pleasant time for me. She is demanding and ungrateful and “lowers the boom” on me whenever she doesn’t get her way. I have tried to set up boundaries and even to try to get her volunteer help to take her out and visit with her. They never last.


The fact that she will be eligible for a new battery for her PM in 2 yrs gives me so much anxiety now! I couldn’t take her having more life in her than she has now. Sorry to sound so harsh! But it has been pure hell on and off these 7 yrs.


Does anyone have experience with this PM batteries for a 95 yr old person? She had AFib and CHF. It’s not as if she is at the hospice stage for anything. Maybe palliative care at the most. Her cardio took her off all unnessary medications for her heart like tikosyn and digoxin. She is still on Lasix, metoprolol and Eliquis. The pacemaker is for syncope.


I know things could change in 2 yrs, but she is very strong willed and she will want a new battery when the time comes. She does not have dementia.

A friend of mine told her dad when he began to get mean, "if you’re going to be like this, then I don’t think I can do this any longer" and he actually came to his senses and stopped being mean. I know it’s a long shot but you might try it. Truly, you do not owe her anything if she’s treating you so badly. Seven years is a long time and I’m sure it’s impacted your health. So what if she doesn’t like the new grocery routine...no one said she had to. She’s a grown up and can determine her attitude...you are not responsible for her liking anything.
As far as your worry over her PM battery...that’s 2 years out. Worry is counterproductive because you have no idea what could happen in 2 years. Don’t let the anxiety of that projection steal your joy.
What can you do to bring joy into your life? Start planning that out and let mom know what it’s like not to have you in her life constantly. You don’t owe her your retirement. In other words ask yourself "what is enough?" What would she do if you keeled over tomorrow? She’d carry on somehow. Take care of you for your own family and self preservation. Take back your powerthat you’ve let her have.
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nymima Feb 4, 2019
Yes - I agree. I have been getting back to my crafts and painting little by little. I don’t feel guilt if I don’t sit with her or take her out just to get her out of her house. I tried to set that up with a volunteer, but she goes a few times and then I never see the volunteer again. She always has an excuse. I think she is telling them she doesn’t feel good or something. It’s been a long 7 yrs. I know I did my best.
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I know your question is about the pacemaker battery, but what I am reading is that you are burnt out. 7 years is a very long time.

Does Mum live at home with you? When is the last time you had respite? What help is available to you in the community? Do you have any personal support, family, friends, therapist, religious leader? Have you spoken to your doctor about being burnt out an needing help?

Setting boundaries is important, but it is not easy and hard today with out some sort of back up. Even if the back up is the therapeutic fib. But more importantly the support of a counselor or therapist to help you stick to you guns. There will be backlash and it may feel easier to 'give in', but in the long run it is so worth standing your ground.
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nymima Jan 31, 2019
She lives next door. Still able to warm meals for herself (from meals on wheels or leftovers from us) and she has a housekeeper who helps with things like changing her bed and doing some wash occasionally. My mother can still walk with the aid of a cane and if you were to meet her, she would come across as a very friendly and nice person.

If she had to go to a NH, it would be on Medicaid. She lives on my father’s SS. The NH’s around here for Medicaid are terrible. I would have to take her kicking and screaming. She avoids hospital visits when she is in afib because she’s afraid they will send her to a NH like she did with my dad when he kept falling. Unrealistic thinking, but she is very phobic about NHs.

She doesnt have any cognitive disability, so a psychiatrist would probably deem her fine mentally.

I am currently taking some time to myself as we just had a blow up and she accused me of being nasty with her for no reason. This is not true. Actually, I was explaining a new way of handling her grocery shopping so she wouldn’t have me running every other day and she didn’t like the switch-up. I am so tired of having to deal with childish behavior and her telling my daughter that I am mean. My daughter reminds her that because of me, she is able to stay in her home and be independent. Then she looks startled as if she never thought about that before.

We always had a difficult relationship, but she had no one after my dad died. So here she is for 7 yrs now and life has never been the same. She is not that fragile and she has more energy than I do at times. My daughter lives close by and helps when she can, but she is a single parent and works a lot. In fact we have my grandson a few times a week - which we love.

A recent visit with the cardiologist determined a new PM in 2 yrs. I almost had a heart attack myself to think I would still be dealing with this - and maybe worse in 2 yrs if she has a battery replacement. I know she is losing some of her life as she knew it, but I’ve tried taking her to the senior groups around here and she doesn’t like them. She does spend a lot of time on her own. If I had 20/20 hindsight, I would never have agreed to this.
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NY, I just read one of your previous posts; your mother refuses to take medication for her anxiety?

If your mother is of sound mind (and it sounds like she is) you have every right (and obligation to yourself) to say "sorry mom, if you won't take meds, I can no longer care for you".

And mean it.   Can you do that?
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nymima Jan 31, 2019
I think I’m gearing up to tell her that. It’s a tough situation for someone who hates meds. She has afib and is petrified it will bring on her afib. In reality, it may decrease her episodes.
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NY;  I think you're wrong about the cognitive piece.  Anxiety was the ONLY symptom of my mother's Mild Cognitive Impairment, which morphed into Vascular Dementia after years of heart issues and a stroke.

I wasn't suggesting a Geri Psych for cognition, though.  I was suggesting a Geri Psych for meds for anxiety and depression.

The fact that she doesn't "get" that she can only stay in her home because of your help is prima facie evidence that her thinking skills have declined.
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nymima Jan 31, 2019
Yes - I totally agree. But she will never take the medication and would be really upset that I would even think of setting her up for an appointment. I did mention to her that I thought she had anxiety, but she looked at me in disbelief. She will never believe it. So I think of new ways to deal with what ever I think she is stressing about. It works for a while. She has afib and she always thinks new medication increases her afib. In fact, a good medication would probably decrease her episodes.
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NYmima - I am so sorry for your situation. Some elderly seem just live to torture their children. And the better their children take care of them, the longer they live to keep on giving hell to their families. A lot of the blame has to be placed with our medical advances that help prolong their lives without any quality. I hope you will see the end of this caregiving journey soon, and your mother goes to her maker. Death is not the end. Our souls will survive. So, it's a beginning of a spiritual journey.
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nymima Jan 31, 2019
So true so true. She is afraid of death. She has no real quantity of life, but she hangs on for dear life. We have discussed what awaits us on the other side, but as much as she wants to see everyone again, she won’t let go. All friends and family gone. She is the only one left. And I am burnt out. Just an odd place to be in life - for me and her.
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I wouldn't say "you'll have to go to a NH or AL"; she may end up needing to go there anyway.

I would simply state that you're no longer going to participate in her care if she doesn't agree to see a geriatric psychiatrist and get treatment for what ails her.  You leave it up to her to figure out how she's going to get cared for.

She's strong willed and competent; she doesn't need you.
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NY, have you considered having your mother seen by a geriatric psychiatrist for her nasty behavior?  Caregiving his hard enough with a grateful parent; have you considered placement in a nursing home?

CW is correct, the PM won't prolong her life.  Palliative care sounds like it's worth looking into.
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nymima Jan 31, 2019
With who would I approach the subject of Palliative care? I’m not sure if she would qualify unless there are some hidden medical problems I don’t know about. She has chf, valve leakage, afib a lot of the time, squamous cell skin cancer that she treats for with a dermatologist, but no chemo or anything. She has macular degeneration and has terrible vision. I’m not sure about her kidneys. Her gfr is at 38% - but that is normal for a person 93 yrs old I think. But all that doesn’t seem to keep her down much. No real bad days.
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I believe in a little threat but be sure your ready to back it up. Like Barb said if she doesn't take her meds...oh well Mom then you are going to have to go to LTC. If Mom is 95 then u have to be 70? You are a Senior too. Tell her you no longer can put up with her nastiness and you don't have to put up with it. If she doesn't like living with you, then you will gladly look for a really nice Nursing home. If she can afford it, an AL.
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I’m so sorry you have to put up with your mom’s nasty behavior. I’m glad she is living next door, instead of under your roof. I know it’s still hard though.

Your story reminds me of a woman I know. Her husband was her whole world. When he died she was able to live alone. Her son thought it would be a good idea to move in with him, his wife and children.

This woman was excited to go thinking she wouldn’t be lonely but said to me that she most likely would be asked to leave after awhile.

When I asked her why she said that she told me that she would interfere in the raising of their children, how they spent money, just everything in their lives. Guess what? Her daughter in law hated her and told her son that his mother had to go!

She knew fully well that she was a busybody. She thinks it’s caring in her distorted way. Her daughter in law is overweight and she constantly told her that she was fat! She thought her criticism would help her to lose weight. She told her that she was a lousy housekeeper and cook. She criticized how she worked in her garden and so her daughter in law told her she would let her have her own garden to tend to, which she did but she still told her daughter in law what flowers to plant. It got crazy! She wanted the walls repainted in her favorite colors. On and on it went. She interfered terribly with their children by undermining the parents.

So now she lives in the upstairs condo above her daughter. Her daughter does everything for her and all she does is complain! Sounds like you are in the same situation. Hope you get relief soon.
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nymima Feb 3, 2019
I’m amazed the son and DIL put up with her for as long as they did. At least my mother lives next door and I can get away when I need to. I’ve tried taking her to senior programs and getting her visits from volunteers, but nothing ever sticks. I don’t fuss over that however. If she would rather not have anyone besides me, then she will have to have me when I have time. That’s all. I have no guilt. I’m just tired after 7 yrs. And tired of her finding fault. I hope I get relief soon too. You can see my panic if the PM was going to give new life to her. I hate to admit that, but truth be told, I will be ready for the nursing home before her! Lol Thank you for your response.
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Depends how often the pacemaker is used..the only thing a pacer can do is correct missing beats at set rate. It is *impossible* to say "it has only 2 years life left" because they last a lot longer when it's not used much. Besides, Medicare will not approve a pacer change until it has reached near end of battery life. Your cardiologist should have explained that to you. Pacermaker change outs are out- patient procedure. Sure if you mom is still walking, talking and functioning I'd do it when the time comes. If she is bed bound and dying, you may want to consider other options like hospice care. If you have not done so already, you may instead want to focus on estate planning and POA by seeing an eldercare attorney. Also discuss, if you have not done so, advanced directives and living wills; a chaplain or nurse can talk to you about that.
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