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I do not want to say outright "No you can't have a key"...he has asked several times and I am running out of ideas. Usually I say "Okay, next time I'm at the hardware store."

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DB: NO is not the answer. If you had any clue how to deal with people who have dementia you would understand that. Say No now, sure, but in 2 minutes, 5 minutes, whenever, in short order it is FORGOTTEN and the request will be repeated. This is NOT about setting boundaries - no matter how many you set and how often you try, short term memory loss means all that is forgotten.
If you really read marydl's question, even without checking the bio, she clearly states DEMENTIA. Redirection can sometimes work, like the suggestions to give him "busy" tasks, but eventually the mail will come back to mind (LONG term memory - getting mail goes back to even preschool for many) and the requests will begin again. The best solution is to redirect ALL important mail and bills and allow him to have his "thing" to do.
We are here to support each other, make suggestions, give advice or a shoulder to cry on. You are treading into passing judgement on someone you do not even know, and are presumptuous enough to peg marydl's "type" just from a few sentences. PSHAW and fie upon you!!
(I did check your bio - you state that you were caring for two elderly gentlemen but had to give that up because they developed dementia - so clearly you are not qualified to pass judgement on this person or even respond properly.)
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It sounds like you have a situation where you're going to have to say a downright no whether you want to or not. It sounds to me from your description you may actually be a doormat who always gives the other person what they want and you're afraid to say no. You need to know when the word no is needed and you need to know how to set healthy boundaries and enforce them
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CaredForParents is right. Try to find things that make him feel important and useful, like folding clean towels when they come out of the dryer, opening or closing the blinds, putting silverware or napkins on the table. Maybe if you devert his attention to other things that he can do, he might forget about the mail.
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FILE cabinet with a lock and PO Box!!
When our mother started making mistakes with her account, I temporarily forwarded her mail to my PO Box (for a month+ so that I could snag all the monthly bills). Once I had the bills, I contacted each place and requested a change of mailing address. For the most part, NO ONE questioned it. So long as the bills get paid, they don't care where the bill is sent! I also needed those bills for the payment addresses so that I could add them all into her bill payer account (she never used computers, so this was all new stuff that I added - once entered, I only have to update each bill with a $ amount and date each month - I prefer NOT to use the auto-bill/payment method, keeping the control in MY hands!) The water department even ASKED ME if I wanted to change the mailing address before I got around to it (my question for them was about using bill payer online, which sends a check, because there would be no remittance paper with it).

Redirecting mail to a family member really isn't the way to go. If something did not make it there for some reason, or someone there misplaces anything, erk. With a PO Box, YOU will be responsible for all the mail. You really should not need anything more than the smallest, basic box (therefore cheapest!) - if anything is too large for the box or packages arrive, they will put a notice in your box. It really is a great way to go!

Even if you go away, you don't have to worry about your mail (courtesy would be to let them know, so they can plan on holding it).  It really is not an inconvenience as you can plan on picking up the mail when you make some other outing, say grocery shopping.  I do not pick up the mail every day, more like once/week, and on occasion even less.  Once/week should be fine as bills usually come in at least several weeks before the due date.  Having to "beat" him to the mail box to siphon out important mail seems like a lot more effort and stress!

If you decide to get a PO Box for yourself, you do NOT need any legal POA to change your mailing address, as long as you are joint or sole on any/all the accounts. This keeps your important mail all in one safe place.

I never have used the online billing to receive any of my bills or hers. I am glad I did not. I must bring proof that I manage all her finances when I go to my SS/Med appointment this month to get assigned as her representative. THAT would have been a nightmare, printing any documents that were still available (some do not retain more than 6 months)!!! All I needed to do was go get a selection from the collections I have stored by year.

A locking file cabinet would be a good investment as well, so that you can file away AND protect all the bills after payment and important documents. If you go PO Box, then you could give him a key to the regular mail box and let him get the "mail". Be aware that some documents, bills and/or paperwork may not be monthly - our mother had several that were yearly (insurance) and quarterly (RE Tax and water bill). Think about those infrequent items before handing over his "key" (suggestions: doctors, dentists, investments, insurance, registrations, licenses, W2s or 1099s from employment or pensions and/or SS/Medicare 1099, and lest we forget big brother - the IRS!)  Be sure to consider all those when changing your mailing addresses.

Seems like mail is a long-standing, regular important task for older people. Back in the day before e-payments, email, computers, etc, the mail was contact to the outside world. Because dementias steal more recent memories and thoughts, this is something that "sticks with them" as a long term memory. Our mother was slowly self-isolating in her condo, but the mail was something she continued to do every day. She was NOT happy when I did the temporary forward (they mail a notice to her and me), saying I get stuff besides the bills!! Yeah mom, a lot of junk, credit applications, charities with hands out, local newspapers, more junk and more junk!
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Tell him that the U. S. Post Office controls the keys. Hey, worth a shot.
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Invest in a photocopier and copy all documents he may be interested in like the bank accounts or utility bills. Keep the originals in somewhere he can't get at or doesn't know about. That way all the bills get paid and important papers are safe come tax time. If my hubby wants something i copy it first because he has a history of "loosing" important stuff. My hubby does not hide things but there is no way of knowing which pile of papers he has put them in.
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My husband has a key. Both of us were issued keys to the mailbox when we moved into our apartment building. I have to beat him to it. Because of the required paperwork we (I) must submit throughout the year to various agencies, it's necessary for us to receive our bank statements, investment quarterly reports, etc., in the mail so we have the originals. I'm thinking of having the credit card bill set to online only. He has Alzheimer's and no longer understands the aspects of banking. He can't figure out the statements and shortly after reading them will tell me there's "nothing" in the bank. He accuses me of "taking" or "stealing" ("his") money when the money only goes to pay bills, doctors, buy needed items at the store, meds, etc. I told him the statements prove everything but still accuses me. Ho hum. The problem is that he wants to take them and "read" them again and again. If I let him do this, they *will* disappear in his menagerie of things he insists upon keeping in the bedroom closets. I told him that these important documents need to be in a special file at all times. Soon I'm going to get a large file box with a lock. Waiting for the statements to come in the mail is of utmost importance for him. He asks me nearly every single day if the "document du jour" (my term for whatever he's looking for that day) has arrived. When it comes to anything financial, he turns from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. Taking his key away would have to be done by the building manager, but probably would only happen if I'm given POA (there are some accounts that need to be addressed). So my next step is to contact legal aid and find out what to do. Even if I do subscribe to some magazines, he'll still pester me about the documents. Right now I have to show him the documents but I dread it. Perhaps if the credit card bill stays online I'll only have to deal with it once a month and show him the info on the computer the day the statement comes. But...if the statement comes after the first of the month (when the auto-pays go through, the online info could change and he gets confused and angry. This further enforces his paranoia that I'm "stealing" or "hiding" money, or perhaps the bank is lying (!) or someone else is taking it. Around in circles, we go. Hoping elder legal services can help. BTW only I have the password to the bank accounts because a couple of years ago he was giving it out to some family members and we had an "incident" that I certainly don't want to have repeated.
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Perhaps they are targeting the magazines to millennials so they can see how their boomer parents grew up. I'm a boomer (65 yo), and sometimes when I visit my 92 yo mother in a nursing home I find Reminisce among the home's library (many issues a few years old) and enjoy reading about things around the time I was born and before.
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All good ideas! My FIL was always in charge of the mail and my MIL now let’s him open/go through it all. She then puts the whole works in a pile to give to us.
However, he does fret about stuff he doesn’t understand (Most all the bills and stuff from brokerage accounts), so if I were you, I’d try to let your spouse get the mail and sit with him while he’s sorting it.
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Since so many businesses have paperless billing why not sign up for it and have our bills come online. You would eliminate some important mail coming in the mail and then incorporate some of the other ideas, so your loved one could go get the mail. You would know for sure your mail where money would be involved would be safe.
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Since so many businesses are going paper less billing,so why don't you make arrangements to have your bills go online. You'll get less mail, but the important stuff with money involved won't be in your mailbox. However you still may have to use some of the other ideas for mail that can't go online. Would like to hear how these ideas worked for you.
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CW, thanks for that insight. I haven't read any of the magazines recently other than just skimming through the Country ones. I read the millennial comment when I was looking for the Reiman Publication successor to re-order magazines for Dad.

I'll see if I can find the article and PM the link to you.

And actually, the boomers are probably ready for magazines directed to them!
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GA, "Some of these are changing as younger folks take over and target the Millennials"

I'm not sure the millennials are the target audience, it came as a shock to look through some "oldies" content and realize that it wasn't aimed at out parent's generation, they were talking about Boomers.
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All very good tips.

I think as people age and have less and less activity in their lives, the daily mail becomes an important thing. It's a change from the perhaps boring routine of their lives. It's something to look forward to, something to think about.

I also think for the Millennials, the FB, Twitter and Instagram media provide a similar function. "What's new?" is I think a common theme from generation to generation.

So I'm thinking of ordering travel brochures, especially for out-of-reach expensive vacations or to places we'd never go - Alaska, Himalayan mountain climbing, etc. Alaskan travel brochures are typically lovely, with stunning photos of glaciers, wildlife, or icebergs. Same with mountains and the national parks- beautiful, distracting and soothing photos.

Or order the old time magazines like Reminisce, Reminisce Extra, Country, Country Extra, Good Old Days. Some of these are changing as younger folks take over and target the Millennials, or so I've read in an article on the first two cited. But Reminisce still does have some old time books to read, with content that harks back to the days of tight times, tight money, DIY activities, and other issues that speak to the older generation.

Just browsing travel brochures or magazines with a lot of scenic photos is relaxing.

NatGeo is even better, if you can get the special issues that are more photographic collections than articles. I bought one on Oceans that's filled with beautiful photos, Wyland type photos. It's soothing and I turn to it frequently.

If anyone has a parent interested in aviation, there is a magazine for that as well.

It's also possible to turn mail collection time into a soothing time by letting your elder read while sipping hot chocolate (if he/she can drink that), hot tea....make this a relaxing time instead of a challenging one. And discuss what's in the mail to let your elder know that you still respect his or her opinion. Perhaps even make up grocery lists together.

I learned not to cut my father out, but rather to bring him into the process of going through the mail and acting on it. I've calendared all the regular bills but he still gets some, and participates by letting me know when they're arrived.
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My mother would get the mail and I might never see it. Picking up the mail was VERY important to her. It was HER job. She would go out to the mail box multiple times a day.

I went online and set up her bills to be auto paid by her bank account. You can receive the bill by mail/and or email. They do not deduct the money from your account until 1-3 weeks later (depending on the company). Thus, if there is an issue with the bill you can address it before they deduct the money from the account. I never found an error. By having it come in my email I knew I received all the bills. By also letting it come through the post, she had real mail to receive. The bank automatically paid the bills so there was no worry of any being missed. Worked beautifully.
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I know about the mail! Important bills would appear months later under a chair or bed, and charity requests were being sent checks which were not written down on the check book register. This created a need for me to become her accountant and take away her check book (not easy over time).

But it taught me that I had to call all the billing companies and get their permission to speak on behalf of my Mom. I sent POAs and became the AIF (attorney in fact) in her bank accounts. This allowed me to make sure that ALL the mail which came in Mom's name, was also c/o to my name. In this way, I reminded Mom that I was now her accountant to make sure that she did not get overcharged each month.

At first, we would do the check writing together: I would open the bills, write the checks and she would sign them. This worked as it was an activity we shared.

Then came the issue you are now facing: risking their picking up and loosing or throwing out the mail. She still went to get the mail but when she came back now, we then would both go through it and she would give me what had my name on it to open.

That also worked as she felt included as part of an activity. After a while she just told me, "you can pay those bills with my checkbook. I don't need to sign them anymore."

It is a step at a time. Good luck!
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I had that very same problem with my sister who has Alzhiemers.
She would get the mail ,but hide it .If you asked for the heating bill-
It would be the one that was two years old.I ended up having the important mail sent to my place since I have POA .
I had to produce a copy of the POA to the different companies such as heat ,electric , phone etc, —but that was fine .
I ended up having all her bills sent to me.She would get junk mail mostly & that seemed to satisfy her.
She got that she could not read anymore ,but certainly could hide
that she couldn’t read. That soon passes & then another problem pops up.It goes with dementia/ Alzheimer’s
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Oh my! Everyone has such good tips and tricks. Happy Halloween for me! I'm going to use these ideas for myself! Whoop Whoop!
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Finding a way for him to feel useful is important. It's really hard on people when they feel useless, as even little errands get taken away. People with dementia often realize they're being benched, and feel way more than people think on an emotional level, even if they can't retell exactly why they know or feel that way. I love the ideas to get there first and leave some behind. Also, it's an inconvenience, but consider a PO box for the very important info. My mom did that since there was no key on their mailbox and getting mail was one of the things my dad could "do for her."
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I have got away so far with what Windyridge suggests, but I do think that Whirled Travel also has a good idea that’s worth adding to my “strategy bag”. It’s a bit like a lucky dip. For instance, I pull out one idea, but if that doesn’t work this time, I dip for another. I’ve become quite a collector! Good luck!
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The mail is very important to my mom. We had to change the address on all important mail and direct it to my brothers house. If we didn't, she would hide or lose all bills. She still gets other mail, and we remind and encourage friends and family to send her notes and cards. Do you have a family member you trust that could receive you bills, etc. and discretely deliver to you?
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My Husband LOVED going to get the mail.
What I would do is get the mail on my way in but leave all "junk" mail in the box.
Then he could go get the mail and he would bring it in and give it to me.
If any were to be lost or dropped it was no big deal.
What you could do is make a quick run to the box, remove anything important then return and give him the key. More importantly one thing I always did..I would bring some "junk" mail to the box and put it in there so if there was no "real junk" mail there would be something for him to get and bring back.
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I have the same problem with my mom. She sometimes will say I want to go with you to get the mail. So if she asks me if I got the mail, I always say oh you didn’t get anything. Usually I haven’t even checked yet. Then sometimes she’ll say, I wanted to go with you. I tell you I want to go. I just play dumb and divert her attention to something else.
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My mother lives alone and goes to her own, and boy she seems to really value this ‘errand.’ So I can understand your DH. I agree that if you can stage it so he can get it out that might be nice. Or, can you set up a designated mail ‘place’ inside your home and have a stack of mail there that he can go through? Tell him the mail people started delivering it to the house again (and that it only comes every other day or something, to suit your staging schedule).  We all get such a pile now, I hope you’d have a stack of circulars, etc.  Ask neighbors for extra stuff they get, to add to the pile.
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I like the idea of a fake key. You could also say you got an extra key but it is bent and you have to have it fixed. Just make up anything
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Can you always get the mail as soon as it is delivered, and leave a few "safe" items in it for hubby to get with his key? I know, extra work, but this interest of his might last very long. and I never found a sure-fire way to avoid extra work anyway.
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You could also maybe give him a key that doesn't work? If you always get the mail anyway, you can just tell him everyday, "Oh, I already got the mail!" Maybe if he has a "fake" key, it will make him feel better about the whole thing, even if he never tries to use it? I dunno, it's a thought. Otherwise, I like the responses above.
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Next time st the hardware store

Hardware store was closed

They didn't have the right blank

I got one made but lost it

And so on............

That's all you can do. I have to be very inventive with my dad to keep him out of trouble and to get things done. You hubs will probably forget about the key and move on to another annoying thing soon.
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