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Annie’s Mailbox: Mom’s pacemaker raises dilemma

Marcy Sugar and Kathy Mitchell Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: My mother is 95 years old and in OK shape. She has been diagnosed with dementia, and her physician recommended a full-time caregiver because Mom is confused most of the time. She still lives in her home, refusing to leave, and my two siblings and I take care of her the best we can.

When we were growing up, Mom was mentally abusive to us and physically abusive to my father. She was not a good mother. When we go to her home to clean and cook, she yells and screams about the same things over and over to the point where I often have to leave. She is not a happy person, always focusing on the negative things in her life. Mom refuses to go to a nursing home, and we cannot force her. Our lives are in a constant state of turmoil and severe stress with no end in sight.

Here’s the real problem: Mom’s pacemaker is due for replacement. If we don’t act relatively soon, the batteries may die and the pacemaker will cease to function. Obviously, that means Mom could die from heart failure. My two siblings don’t want to have the maintenance done. They say her mind is deteriorating so quickly, it would be pointless. They are willing to throw caution to the wind. But, Annie, I don’t think I can live with myself if we don’t replace the batteries. I need your help. – Outvoted

Dear Outvoted: Please don’t have regrets when your mother dies. These choices can haunt you forever. Ask to speak to Mom’s doctor about the pacemaker and her dementia. Even outpatient surgery may be too much for her to handle. Let the doctor advise you. Then look into pooling your resources and getting a caregiver, at least part time, in order to give the rest of you a break. Eldercare Locator at (1-800-677-1116) and the Alzheimer’s Association ( can also provide resources and support.

Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar were longtime editors of the Ann Landers column.
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