Early Sign of Dementia: My Father is Spending Out of Control

Learn about the potential link between out of control spending and early signs of dementia in older adults. Discover tips for monitoring accounts, closing credit cards, and protecting vulnerable family members from unknown catalog companies.

Early Sign of Dementia: My Father is Spending Out of Control
Is this an early sign of dementia? 

Anita wrote in asking if an early sign of dementia is out of control spending.

Tonight things hit the fan in the house. My father has been spending a lot of money ordering things from catalogs.

We must get ten catalogs a day from every mail order company in the country. Shopping from these catalogs is really all that my father enjoys doing now. He has a hard time walking and is afraid to leave the house.

He doesn’t enjoy TV and doesn’t hear. He refuses to get a hearing aid. So he spends his hours looking at the catalogs and ordering from them.

My mother noticed their bank account had been shrinking. She finally said something to him tonight.

It was awful. My father doesn’t connect with the world very well, so his reaction was extreme and painful to hear.

What I really resent are the catalog companies that recognize someone who will buy. Then targets them with a barrage of catalogs.

Tonight I got onto the computer to see about getting on a “do not send” list. I didn’t want to give my credit card number to companies I had never heard of.

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    I know that a lot of older people get addicted to home shopping. Either by catalog or TV, so I have a feeling I am not alone with this problem.

    It is difficult to deal with. It is terrible to tell someone that enjoys so little now... that they are going to have to stop doing the one thing they enjoy, before it takes all the family resources. Could this be an early sign of dementia?

    I guess my father was spending around $1000 per month.

    I imagine that some people even spend themselves into debt.

    I wish there were some way we could protect vulnerable people by keeping them off the catalog mailing lists. Without having to give credit card numbers to unknown companies).

    Any ideas from people who have gone through it?


    This happens to so many families. If it isn’t catalogs, it is gambling on line or ordering things on the TV.

    The best way to protect your senior family members is to get access to their accounts. Be vigilant about monitoring those accounts.

    My suggestion to you is to close all his credit card accounts . And open new ones, with very low, and I do mean LOW credit lines.

    That way he can still use the cards, but you are in control of how much he spends.

    He is still considered a competent adult and it is his money to spend in the way he wants to spend it. Hopefully this is a solution you both can live with.

    I would investigate the do not send list


    Of course- they want an email address for your dad- get him a hotmail account just to sign up.

    Has your dad been evaluated for dementia? This is something that I would suggest that you suggest that he be tested for. As I am writing this I can hear you say, “what! is she out of her mind?”

    I know you have given a lot of reasons that your dad has exhibited this behavior. I believe many family members ignore or discount symptoms... that could be early stages of dementia.

    If treated early, it could slow the progression of the disease and maybe spark his interest in life a little bit.

    I hope that this is helpful.

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