The Holidays and Senior Money Pits

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Charlie has always loved catalogs. Because of his mobility problems he is not able to go to the mall shopping, so catalogs have become his arm chair shopping mall of choice.

With the onslaught of catalogs in the mail last week Charlie was in his glory. He sat down, pen in hand and started looking for things he "needed."

The first thing that caught his eye was a BOSE sound system to attach to the TV – a real bargain at $400.00, he told me. He handed me the completed form, told me to add the credit card number and order the system.

As he was browsing one of his military magazines, he discovered an Air Force aviator jacket – all leather, listed at $299.00. He has an aviator jacket from his flying days that has mellowed with age, had the zipper replaced, and is like an old friend, warm and comfortable. Like Charlie it has developed character - a few wrinkles and worn spots here and there, but doesn't everything get better with age? I love the old jacket; it symbolizes the warrior that he once was. Again, he filled out the form and told me to order the jacket.

The third item he decided he needed was a "Hospital Income and Short Term Recovery Insurance Plan" – for each of us. Now mind you, he is looking at assisted living facilities, we have Medicare and a good back-up health insurance plan. So why do we need a policy that pays us up-front for getting sick? We don't! Charlie filled out the form and passed it to me, trusting me to mail it for him.

Thank goodness he doesn't just put these things in the mail and send them off or we would be bankrupt before I knew what hit me.

The reason he passes them on is that he doesn't understand some of the questions or requirements on these forms. He doesn't admit that, of course, but when I see the blank spaces I understand the problem.

You may ask, why does he do this? The easy answer is that he is bored.

He has nothing else to do but watch TV and browse catalogs all day long. Efforts to get him involved in other things result in resistance; partly because he is physically unable to get around, and the other reason is that he "knows what he doesn't know." That is, he understands his limitations, both physical and mental, when dealing with public situations, so he has adopted an avoidance-avoidance behavior.

What did I do with all his forms? Well – I did order the BOSE, our Christmas gift to our selves. We had been talking about it for a while. The system has arrived and it is terrific. Our TV has a terrible sound system and the BOSE has made a big difference to our worn out ears.

As for the other items – they were filed in the circular file. You know the one I mean.

I didn't tell Charlie. Next week he won't even remember he "ordered" those things – I hope. If he does, I may be in big trouble. Of course they always remember the things you hope they have forgotten!

It is difficult for seniors to avoid senior money pits – those television ads, TV commercials, catalogs, home shopping networks, and telephone calls from salespeople, all hoping senile senior citizens will bite.

As I write this, Charlie just showed me a weather barometer advertised in today's Sunday paper that he thinks we should have. "It's only $19.99," he tells me.

Here we go again!

Marlis describes herself as a “Gramma who loves technology and has a lot to say.” She blogs about whatever catches her interest: food, books, family and more. For AgingCare.com, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

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6 Comments

Don't let Charlie on Amazon, I have the one click ordering activated and give in to impulse too often myself. Luckily... it's books that I am tempted by and not more expensive stuff.
"...LUCKILY it's books…"????

Don't mention books to me. The complete librettos of Gilbert & Sullivan. Three full-sized atlases. The entire output of Dick Francis, Lord love us and save us. "The Tiger Who Came To Tea" - large print hardback edition complete with audio CD, ready for the great-grandchildren there's no sign of yet. We're already stuffed to the rafters with books, I haven't even unpacked mine yet (sad to say I am my mother's daughter… there are at least five packing cases) and we've been here four and a half years. No no no. When it came to books, they were the first thing that made me ditch "respect for autonomy" as a caregiver's virtue and get very totalitarian indeed with my poor mother. She can work her way through her lifetime's library first before I let another one set dustjacket inside the house.
My thoughts as an elder. I would like to meet people in my age, who are totally disappointed with the way things have turned out. I can't believe my age. Have two adult grown sons who constantly build my hopes, then pull the rug out from under me time after time. I can't count on either one of them. Where are the people that I can vent too; who understand and won't tell me I should write a gratitute list, and that I'm too negative. The facts are the facts. Should I just laugh at the fears and disappointments. "oh, funny thing happened, my son promised this or that and never came through. He forgot." Okay how funny. Tried to get a job for some extra money.....impossible..how funny! Everything I finally got out of storage, things that I cherished were stolen....how funny. So I have dismissed everyone; just sit here isolating watch the upper one percent surrounded by their families, laughing and confident in their paycheck and insurance. I took practically my last cent to add on a supplement in case I need cancer treatments. Can't get food stamps or medicaid. I'm over about fifty dollars for everything. Worked all my life, let my dreams go by. from the country club to a one bedroom. Anonymous too embarassed!