Mom shops for the short lived feeling of happiness it brings her. She buys clothes and shoes and handbags she doesn’t need. She only leaves the home to shop or go to an appointment, spends a lot of time watching TV and buying things on the shopping channels as well. She is not a social person. When I say to her “just because it’s a great buy, if you don’t need it, it really isn’t” she gets defensive. I know she is depressed and lonely the only joy she gets is from shopping, finding that “great deal”. She grew up poor so there’s that. Now that she has money to spend she doesn’t see it as a problem. She also struggles with memory. We live in different states so I don’t get to see her often but talk on the phone daily. I’m struggling with how to help her find joy in things other than shopping. Should I be worried or just let it go? She’s 84, still drives, is in great physical health but experiencing obvious cognitive and memory decline.
Rarely anything she needed and certainly nothing we needed.
I got her invoved in making baby blankets, refugee packages, anything that she could crochet, knit, or sew. She could buy a few extra cans of food when he grocery shopping was done and donate that to a food bank.
This helped, as the money she spent went to good causes. Our local HS has a food pantry that the refugees in our neigborhood can go to to do their 'grocery shopping'. No cost to them, and such a fulfilling cause. Someone who shops endlessly could buy things that could be used to stock this kind of 'store'. I know our HS is not the only one doing this!
This scratched that itch that made her want/need to shop and filled the hole in her heart that needed to be filled doing service.
At 84 I doubt you can get her to socialize now.
My friend almost made it to Christmas, but not quite, but among all the things her executor is trying to clean out of her small home --which is jammed with stuff--are all the new Christmas decorations she bought on Etsy as soon as she was home from hospital. It was basically her, her iphone, her kitty on the top of the pillow at her head, and online shopping.
Just saying. I think that you can carry on about this; but I think nothing will change.
There will probably come a time in the future if her memory is going bad that all of this will have to stop one way or another, but for now let her enjoy her shopping.
She's not hurting anyone with it, and I'm sure it makes her feel somewhat still in control of her life, so I would not want this to be the hill that I die on, as it's an fight you will never win.
Whatever you do, don't pass judgement on her shopping as she will just hide it, and that will make it worse. Material "needs" and "wants" are different for everyone so please don't pass judgement.
I like the posting that suggested that her shopping be donated. In Colorado, there was an agency that accepted professional dresses and accessories and old "uniforms" so that people-in-need could move out of the low paying jobs and into something with a better pay. They also accepted "adult" school supplies since there are all kinds of school supply programs for school-age kids, yet nothing for adults.
I think you need to do a visit (don't plan on staying in her house unless she offers) so you can see what is really happening. If she is struggling with memory, there are probably other things that are happening too that you might not be aware of. At the same time, you could do some quick research into assisted living places, and potential volunteer activities for her (delivering for Meals on Wheels?), in case you might need it.
For the loneliness, I would see if here is a senior day care that she could go to. You will need to actually take her there the first couple of times to help her get past her fears of the new situation. Maybe she can take some classes at the YMCA. Could she volunteer at one of the elementary schools or preschool?
The other part about her shopping and well being that concerns me is that she is a perfect candidate for fraud and catfishing.
Anyway, I'd schedule a visit to ensure everything is truly okay with your Mom and find out what she is doing with all these things that she is buying.
Shopping & storing items adequately?
Shopping/collecting, untidy but not hoarder level?
Shopping, hoarding but 'clean' & with pathways?
Shopping, hoarding, reduced pathways or 'unclean'?
Sadly, if memory or other cognitive skills fade, you can see where this can lead..
She cannot live independently alone anymore.
The serious problem here is not your mother's shopping and spending money.
Yes, you should be worried. Not about your mother's shopping and spending her money, but because she has dementia and is living alone. She is also getting behind the wheel of a car. A person with memory issues and cognitive decline getting behind the wheel is exactly the same as a person who is drunk or on drugs. They endanger the lives of every other person on the road. Not just themselves.
Your mother needs to be in assisted living or remain in her home with live-in caregivers. She cannot be alone anymore or driving.
Do you have POA for her? She should get to the doctor and get some testing done. In the meantime, you should ask the police department to make regular wellness checks on her and let them know she's still driving. That's a place to start.