What do I do if mom is spending her money like crazy on QVC when she can't afford it?

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She has a down for a small place to buy for herself but is out of control with her spending then expects others to bail her out when she goes broke. She is still in charge of her finance which is scary because she has a hard time remembering anything let alone have self control it's just scary.

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A lot of old people do this. They're bored. They sit and watch TV or look at catalogs and end up ordering things. QVC is particularly bad because it tends to be overpriced things that people don't need. I knew one woman who had the QVC addiction so bad that she had unopened boxes stacked in her carport.

Since she is still in charge of her life, there isn't much you can do except show her how much she is spending. She will probably get angry and defensive, but she may realize the truth of what you are saying.

My father was a compulsive catalog shopper. A typical month would see about $1K in catalog sales. Holiday months would be double that. He had no concept of the money he was spending. He didn't even add the columns. (We learned when he died he had mixed dementia.) I never was able to handle it effectively. Really it was because he sat in a chair doing nothing but looking out the window and at catalogs for about 20 years. I know he was bored. My mother wouldn't back me up on any plan, so the only thing I could do was try to intercept the catalogs and have the companies stop delivering them. He would mail an order and ask me to mail it. I would conveniently lose the envelope. It was an everyday thing. He ultimately spent pretty much his entire SS check on catalogs, but never grasped it. I felt better about it thinking how some older people buy RV's and travel across country. He sat in the window and ordered from Vermont Country Stores. :-/
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My mother was the same at. I showed her the credit card bill so she could see the charges added up. Her response,"It's my money, I can spend it on what I want."
I even changed the number on the credit card, but somehow her orders still went through. Then I tried to get HSN and QVC removed from the channels..no luck.
Now, 5 years after my mother's death, my brothers are suing me, accusing me of using her credit card to order these things.
I really don't know what I should have done differently. I was her POA, but my mom was not mentally impaired. She could make her own decisions. She had plenty of money, so it wasn't an issue to me after she explained to me that it was her money.
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This is a tricky situation.

I am disabled. I live in a building with senior citizens. One of the things I do is pick-up boxes that are left in the foyer and bring them up to peoples' apartments. The two most common activities in my building are: 1. Watching TV and 2. Gossiping about their neighbors. In my building, there are several individuals, all seniors, who regularly order from TV shopping channels. Where I live (Greater Boston Area), the TV shopping networks are on over-the-air TV. This means that you don't have to have cable TV in order to get them. I can assure you this: they are well-aware that a significant portion of their customers are lonely, mostly elderly people. They train their order takers to chat these people up, so that they feel they have a personal relationship with that particular shopping channel. They don't give a hoot that Grandma is spending away her life savings on their products.

So, what can you do? Realize that your senior is probably bored and would really like human company and friendship. That's why she is ordering all that crap.

I would then contact your local Council for the Aging, senior center or Elder Services. If you don't know who to contact, call your mother's state senator or state representative's office. They have a constituent services representative who is generally knowledgable about services available in your area. You will want to talk to a social worker / outreach worker and explain what's going on. The social worker / outreach worker should be able to help you formulate a plan as to how to talk to your mother about this. It is possible that your mother has health problems that have gone undiagnosed or are under treated that could contribute to this problem. So, it's important for your mother to see her doctor and for you to tell her doctor what's going on and why you are concerned. One of the things a social worker / outreach worker can do is to try to entice your mother to get out of the house and to get involved in activities at the senior center.

You might want to consider hiring a private elder care coordinator. They are either experienced social workers or nurses who are used to working with difficult seniors and their families. What you would do is this: you would schedule an initial appointment with the elder care coordinator, give that person a summary of where your mother is at, her overall health and behavioral health. You would express your concerns about your mother recklessly spending money on home shopping channels. The elder care coordinator would then strategize with you as to how to handle the problem. One of the things an elder care coordinator does is moderate family meetings. Having a neutral third party, who really does have your mother's well-being at heart and who has mental health training, is very helpful.

Hope that helps.
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My father had that problem with bradford exchange. He just kept ordering all this junk, and they were more then glad to sell it to him. I called bradford, and it was painfully clear they they were not going to stop. They would ask if I had poa, and since I didn't they would not stop even though I told them he was old and sick and and confused and had dementia. They just didn't care. He was ordering 2 and 3 of the same thing because he forgot what he had bought. It was stacked up and the house looked like a warehouse. It was a nightmare. The only way you can can stop them is with poa. And get to her mail before she does.
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Fedup73, call the credit card company and have the maximum limit reduced to a very low amount.   Then that way your Mom will be cut off because she maxed out the credit card.

I used a very low limit credit card for ordering off the internet, that way if my credit card is captured, whomever has it won't be joy riding on the information highway for very long :)
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What is missing in some of these answers is a POA means nothing unless the person has been declared incompetent. This is sometimes difficult because your mom may have periods of lucid behavior and those times may coincide with the testing times.
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Why not try blocking the channels from ever appearing on the TV? We did this in our home, our children grew up never knowing there was a possibility of MTV or some other channels we found vile. It's easy to do within the controls of your cable or satellite, the channels don't appear in the line up at all. When my children ever asked I'd just plead ignorance "beats me"
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My mom was "gullible" to every sales pitch coming her way. She bought the expensive mattress that moves in all diections, bought the 7 year light bulbs, gave to many bogus organizations, and supported deadbeat relatives. I could only watch helplessly until she became critically ill when I then obtained POA. She lived two years past this and I was able to put her in a safe and comfortable environment. Her estate when my dad died was probably worth half a million. When she died, she had $40,000 left.
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I had the same problem with my husband installing a $4000.00 alarm system that he couldn't even work. So, I had his Dr. write a letter informing the alarm company that my husband was diagnosed with dementia and that they should void the contract, otherwise she was going to suggest to us to contact an attorney and file elder abuse charges. They voided the contract and I saved $4000.00. Get a letter from the Dr. and send it to the places she does business with.
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Overspending can be an addiction just like drug or alcohol abuse. There is usually an underlying cause. It could be physical, like the onset of dementia/Alzheimer's, or emotional. Buying things makes her feel loved and gives her pleasure. And also makes her feel like she's in control. Like alcoholism or drug abuse, "just a little" isn't possible. One beer turns into 15, buying one sweater turns into a whole wardrobe. She may never wear the stuff or even open the box or remember ordering it. Telling her to stop isn't going to work. It will probably just make her more determined. You're telling her not to shop is the last thing on her mind when she's ordering stuff. I would suggest that the 2 of you visit her doctor to determine if there is a physical reason for her obsession/addiction. She may open up to her doctor if she trusts him or her. The doctor may recommend behavioral therapy. I think outside help would be a big benefit for all of you and go a long way to solving the constant tug-of-war over her spending. I agree that bailing her out is simply enabling her to continue her overspending.
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