Re: Dementia Patient needing pacemaker

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From: Dallas
Posts: 262
This subject has recurred several times. Probably we should post an article on it. As I said to son-in-law there are so many things where it comes down to personal choices, values, and the facts of an individual situation. Had my dad been offered an opportunity to have a pacemaker six months ago, I think (think being the operative word) that I would have felt that he should not get one, even though it may have bought him another month or year. Indeed, what kind of month or year would it have been? As of last week, he's gone. It's a good thing really, though hard.A life of incontinence, personal care done by strangers (or loved ones who have become strangers) would not have been a life for him.

Ultimately, no one knows what is best in these circumstances better than those who love this people purely and want the absolute best for him her.

As to making a decision, don't let doctors bully you or your loved one into a spot. They rarely know what's best for a loved one in these circumstances.

How do we make decisions like these? Gain the most information you can about the loved one's condition (the dementia AND the heart illness), the prognosis of both illnesses with and without treatment, the possible side-effects of the treatments, and the effects of the one illness on the other with the treatment.

For instance, if the dementia is worsening (or is projected to worsen), the pacemaker make take the natural course of the dementia and put it on steroids. The agitation that often attends dementia may only be made heightened and prolonged by the addition of a better functioning heart. Would this abide well with a loved one's values? The answer may be yes. I'm not one to say. But, would that heightening of the agitation and fears make your (your speaking rhetorically) loved one's life better or worse?

It's late and I've slept hardly at all the past several days so this may not make any sense at all. I sincerely do hope it helps. We will say prayers for all who have asked similar kinds of questions in the past several days.

Posted on 2008/5/7 23:39

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