My 91-year-old father is obsessed with buying cares. He has bought 7 cars in 4 years. How can we get him to stop?

Asked by

He used to trade in his cars after retirement every two years. Reasonable. Loves cars. But now it is becoming obsessive. Car dealer makes out really well with each trade in and up for new model and highest in their lines. Last one had 2500miles only. that was 7 wks ago and now he is working on another trade. He sees nothing "wrong" with it and the dealer will not stop him.

Answers 1 to 6 of 6
Top Answer
Unless you suspect that he has diminished capacity, I guess he can do whatever he likes with his money. Is he still driving these cars he buys? If so, it may just be his "hobby." He may love both the interaction with the salespeople and talking about cars.
If you think the dealership is taking advantage, you may want to intercede. However, making a commission is how dealers earn a living. They are not going to turn him away.
Your father may feel that he is nearing the end of his life....why not enjoy the fruits of his labor?
DAD:

He's probably dissatisfied with his self-image, and since he can't do much about the way he looks perhaps changing cars every so often makes him feel better about himself and in control.

I suggest you get it straight from the horse's mouth. Ask him how he feels before, during, and after trading an "old" car for a new one. ... Pay careful attention to his body language, and observe/monitor him often -- especially when's he's not aware -- so you can anticipate his behaviors.

Still, I have one question to ask: If he were in his 30s or 40s, would you consider his current behavior odd?
Thank you for your insight. I do observe him and his short term memory is getting really poor. Asks same questions over and over within a conversation. He has no problem with self image, that I can tell. I would find it extrememly odd for him to have been doing this in his early years! For one, there would not have been the money to do so and my mother would have ended that. He had his fishing boat and golf and 5 kids. I will ask him the questions you offered. They may be insightful to both of us. I wrote down my feelings in a letter but hesitate giving it to him. Thanks again.
If your father does not have diminished mental capacity, he may have my father's attitude prior to his illness. Dad always stated that he was over 80, was financially stable, and should be able to do what he wanted to if it did not hurt anyone. The one "war" he never won with my mother was that he had the right to take an afternoon nap if he wanted to do so. She thought he was just being lazy - my father was never lazy. I think my mother was afraid he would start acting old if he did so. :) She is 83, a real estate broker, and is closing a deal tomorrow. She is the true handful but very brave. I admire her!! (PS My Dad found hiding places to take his naps.)
Too bad for your Dad as a nap is so important and healthy. My dad has always taken a nap right after lunch for 20 min. now at 91, they may go 35min. It refreshes him no end. And he does not go to bed until 11 and is up by 7! I really must have a talk with him about this car thing. Jokingly, 7 wks ago, when the newest 2011 car was bought, I told him if he even thought about another car that I would have him committed. He has two cars now and mom does not drive! No problem with that but the constant trade in's are not his "normal".
I have to say that this kind of sounds like my grandmother (who has Alzheimers)... though she will hold tight to a penny even if there are a thousand others in her purse. (If you know what I mean) I really think you need to bring in an unbiased party to evaluate your father and see if he really realizes what he is doing. I know that my grandmother has no concept of time. She doesn't remember from one minute to the next what she is doing... or even what day it is. Good luck.

Share your answer

Please enter your Answer

Ask a Question

Reach thousands of elder care experts and family caregivers
Get answers in 10 minutes or less
Receive personalized caregiving advice and support