How to deal with an elder buying needless things?

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@chimonger. yes she notices when i clean up and became very upset when sister boxed up knick-knacks, i would have gone piece by piece w/mom first which i do everyday a little at a time. I cannot through someone elses stuff out w/o consent unless of course the obvious
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@Chimonger, I agree with the fear concept,however in my experience as a nurse, and a caretaker of my mom,I have noticed their loved ones often give up & health deteriorates when someone intervenes like taking over certain chores,or places them in home etc ,i know there is a place and timefor certain changes but i feel w/ my mom evensome of the smallest steps i take to help she regresses.I back off try different approach, Outside help is a no no.Cant help but wonder if i am hurting her more or helping by organizing/cleaning/etc and setting her up for the anxiety/panic attacks.she suffers It is a tough call everyone situation different. i know but for now she is safe,and cared for by me but i may have to consult a therapist for both of us on how to gently continue this care as her dementia progresses..I know taking something away from her like paying bills is going to be extremely hard but for now i watch closely but let her do it her way and correct if needed. Last thing i want is to step on moms toes,i will not until absolutely last resort....sorry if i babbled nonsense.!
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Gotta wonder if that kind of behavior is a "guy thing"! [hiding the debt out of embarrassment and fear, then getting fatalistic over it] [a little jest there].
Your family could [if it has not gotten done yet], intervene and get rid of the defunct account checks--help clean out the paperwork to simplify what's laying around the house.
It might be time to take over doing their paperwork for them.
You [or whoever is designated] need a POA to do that properly.

DO negotiate with his health care [be a strong advocate], explain the situation to the health care company. Write a script to follow, so you only give them the information they need, not the life story.

He is not the first, and has plenty of company, in what happened, even by people with all their wits.
There are ways to repair this mistake, even if, when you first start out, it might appear impossible. You might be re-routed to numerous departments and sometimes routed in circles.
Be persistent.
IF that company remains intractable, it is time to seek help and guidance from your State Insurance Commissioner's office, and perhaps seek a different health coverage company.
There are numerous larger companies, like Aetna for instance, who have perpetrated some pretty bad patient entrapment and abandonment, that even Commissioners were not able to remedy.
We went through this with Mom, and ultimately could only file complaints with the BBB and State Commissioner [CA], and let people know what was perpetrated.
If no one talks about it, the companies keep getting away with it.

Elders who cannot understand the games clearly enough, and have a hard time taking care of their own affairs, cannot deliberately defraud anyone.
A company accusing such an elder of that is being a bully, in all it's ramifications.
You need to advocate deeply for Dad---make sure that the company wipes that accusation clear off his records, permanently!
Also, BEFORE you ask them to do that, make sure letters have been entered into his files that make it clear to any reader, that your Dad "got confused and used the wrong checkbooks, because he was unable to properly handle his affairs", and that he has some help now.
THAT way, if he needs to seek another insurer, that letter can be found to mitigate what happened, in case someone digs up that accusation sometime in the future.
On one hand, Insurance companies want to cover their collective butts--hence all the stiff laws for privacy acts etc.
AND, they want to get rid of patients that cost them too much, or that hint at fraud in any way--those affect their bottom line....they cut that kind of "deadwood" out as fast as they can.
BY APPEALING to their sense [whats left of it] of ethics, for being patient advocates, and preventing "patient abandonment when the patients are most vulnerable", it is possible to still get them to do the right thing for the patient.
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My Dad started getting his bank accounts mixed up and started paying some insurance bills on an account that had been closed. He got notification that his health insurance was going to DROP him because of his fraud! Thank heavens my sister found the statement because we didn't know why he was acting so nervously and short tempered. He kept saying, " I don't care what happens to me cause I can survive, but I need to get every thing in place to take care of your mother." He always been dedicated in his role as the finacial supporter for his spouse and family.
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Nursecarebear--life changing stressors can cause dementias and Alzheimer's Disease to take sudden progressions.
Sometimes I wonder, and sometimes pretty sure, collecting senseless things is one way of trying to keep track of thoughts and daily things--though, sometimes it is simply that they cannot keep track of things, so they let them pile up.
One Gma used to collect the polished beach pebbles of a palm-size or so, and use a pencil to write a word or phrase on each one. They were all over windowsills, tables, mantle, in dishes, on edges of stairs, counters--anywhere she might see them and be helped to remember a thought.
When an elder has progressed to buying things senselessly, it is probably time to take over their finances to prevent them spending away the funds needed for their care.
My Mom used up her money buying very expensive things, that were useless to her or just about anyone [a $25K garden whimsey!] And frustrated and blocked any attempt to help her achieve some of her dreams, since those were not what she really wanted, anyway--but it kept all of us jumping.
Does your Mom notice when you clear things off counters and they disappear?
Possibly, you could try clearing things away, putting them in a box or something, out of sight, out of mind. IF she asks where the stuff is, you can simply say you cleared the clutter, it's right here, Mom.
IF she does NOT ask after it for at least one month, then it can probably go away easy enough.
Have you talked with anyone with experience caring for elders who's dementia is rapidly progressing? Sometimes that is very helpful and supportive. Perhaps a Hospice nurse, or Social Worker.
IT can be very helpful to have someone nearby who can be supportive for you!
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my mom is the opposite, she fears there isnt enough money , when she has plenty. I've been purchasing food,clothes alot lately which I dont mind, but explaining,showing &,telling her about assets doesnt sink in i repeat it almost daily. any suggestions? she is gathering multiple items like straws,cups, paper ,samples etc all of which she has had but now piling on counters. It is unhealthy,collects dust and embarrasing but i do my best to clean &suggest options w/o insulting her. She doesnt want to wash up either I believe she is depressed. My father died last year. her dementia took off quickly.......progressing rapidly
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Appreciated....
Better start setting limits on those dysfunctional behaviors before she has to move in with you!
But if she is low-income enough, she might be able to go right into a long-term care place, instead of your home--it somehow is easier for a facility to limit hoarding and other difficult behaviors, than if they move in with family.
When a hoarder is limited from doing that, they WILL get angry...and often take that anger out on whoever [particularly family] is placing limits on their hoarding.
BTW--
be very wary of donating to organizations that have a sob-sister come-on.
..so many "charitable" organizations spend so little on the actual work they say they do
--it mostly gets pocketed under the umbrella of "administrative costs".
Some have been indicted for fraud, yet they go right back and do it some more. [[villages in other countries who's local industry is perpetrating stories of starving kids, for instance, or the save the animals stories using the same tactics as the save the child ones...just beware! If people actually travel to where the "child" lives, they find not their supported child, but a village full of people grinding out similar stories, perpetrated by the "charity"]]
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If you think businesses prey on elders and the disabled while they are alive, wait until you get pursued after they die!
A man we took care of in our home: bill collectors pursued US for HIS bills that he couldn't pay--ever-
--he had been destitute, and ALL the providers knew it.
Yet they still tried to send things thru collections and force us
[we were not his family] to pay them-
--hounded us, UNTIL I told them
"the man died destitute, so was his wife, and we are not his relatives; if you continue to harass, harm or pursue us in any way, you are subject to legal action from the State."
Those stopped, but then the rounds of beggars started--even the Boy Scouts.
Every organization you can think of, sent sob story solicitations for donations--even the hospital he'd been in, who had also tried to send his old bills thru collections!
It took many months to get all that stuff stopped--thank Heavens for the internet, as that allowed much faster and easier contact to get them stopped....though it took several emails back and forth to the Boy Scouts, before a real person responded and took care of it--twice!
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And the salespeople in stores prey upon people like my MIL. She went to Best Buy looking for a new tv and ended up spending $1700 on a tv, top-of-the-line cables, a blu-ray player, and a sound bar. When I went down there to visit, the sound bar wasn't even there! Did the installer take it? Where is it? The tv is 42" and she doesn't even know what a blu-ray player is! She still thinks it might play her 3 quarter inch tapes!!! This is when my husband and his sister finally realized that this is a problem. (she blew her entire retirement fund on stuff in the past and ended up having to be dug out of her house!) They changed her mailing address so they could monitor what's going on. BUT, they don't have the courage to take away her debit card. Now, because she doesn't get out to shop much and isn't driving anymore, all she does is go to the ATM and take out hundreds of dollars just to keep in her pocketbook! She is practically destitute after all the things she has done. She also went to the dentist and instead of choosing the practical and affordable choice of dentures, she chose to get implants which cost her $20,000 out-of-pocket!!!! She will be paying for that for years to come! The children HAVE to take control of the finances and prevent the parent from destroying their bank accounts! I know it's scary to confront them with this, but it will protect them. When my FIL (her ex) passes away, and the money for her care dries up, things are going to get really ugly when she has to move in with one of us.
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Hi all,
Mom, too collects. She has done this for a long time. As a person who appreciates organization, it makes me crazy. I remind myself that I am not going to change her at this point. I try to ignore the piles when I visit. I would say that in Mom's case it isn't so much "fear" as attachment. She sees the value in every single piece of trash. It's really creative in that she sees possibilities for everything. I would also say that it's more about control than fear ('you can't make me throw that away'.) My solution... try to intercede before the junk, especially junk mail, comes into the house. She can't miss what she doesn't know exists.

I recently wrote Publisher's Clearing house and they were quickly responsive. AMAZINGLY they stopped sending! Here is the e-mail address that I wrote explaining the situation: PCH Opt Out:

All of the unwanted solicitation borderlines on elder abuse to me. The charitable groups prey on Mom's weakness at seeing an injured or sick child, puppy, horse, wolf, tiger, polar bear and any other furry creature. She gets them every single day. I have also done another junk mail opt out, but I do not have the website handy. It's supposed to stop junk mail and Power of Attorney's can fill it out. Dad just passed a few months ago so I completed for him as well. They are both still getting a lot of unwanted items.

This site is such a comfort in knowing others are going through similar challenges.
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