My almost 91-year-old Mom is bedridden and watches a lot of television. She is constantly buying things from home shopping channels. She can’t use any of the items ordered and I am constantly sending them back. It’s making helping her with money management very difficult.
She can’t afford to do this, but I can’t seem to make her understand that. I’ve tried canceling her credit card, but she calls and has it reinstated. She says it makes her happy to order things but never is satisfied with what arrives in the mail.
I’ve called the shopping channel and sent power of attorney papers to no avail.
Could you help me figure out what to do?
Thank you for your help,
Helping a Senior Addicted to Online Shopping
Surprisingly, the situation you are in is not uncommon. When someone’s activity is restricted, television can provide an inexpensive option for entertainment that is available around the clock. Older adults with mobility challenges often spend a lot of time watching television.
Experts say curing this type of addiction requires getting to the core of what is causing the behavior. According to Psychology Today, depression is a trigger for online shopping addiction.
Since your mother is bedridden, perhaps this is the underlying issue causing her to turn to online shopping? It is definitely a concern to discuss with her physician. The doctor can determine if that is the problem and create a treatment plan if it is.
Helping your mother find ways to redirect her attention may be the most positive way to intervene. Replacing online shopping habits with healthier hobbies can be a solution that doesn’t put you and your mother in conflict. That can make for easier conversations about money management.
Begin by turning the television off and turning some of your mother’s favorite music on. Then find more meaningful activities for her to stay involved with:
- Reading: If your mother has a tablet device, you can borrow e-books from your local library. Some libraries also loan e-reader devices if your mother doesn’t have one.
- Arts and crafts: Inexpensive craft projects may be another avenue to explore. Craftgawker is a great site for exploring projects you and your mother could do together.
- Games and puzzles: Boxed puzzles, crossword puzzles, and word search games keep the hands busy while also protecting cognitive health.
- Friendly visitor programs: Helping your mother reconnect with the outside world may be another way to help her kick the shopping habit.
Talk with your local senior center, area office on aging, and your religious institution to see if they have any volunteers who visit homebound seniors. Many do.
If these steps fail, you might need to take stronger action. Since it sounds like you have tried notifying the shopping channel directly without success, here are a few additional suggestions to try:
- Contact your cable provider to determine if they can block the shopping channels. While there may be a fee, it is probably much less expensive than the shipping costs you are racking up returning all of your mother’s purchases.
- Depending upon what type of legal standing you have over your mother’s finances, you might need to not only cancel her credit card but ask the credit bureaus to lock the account. This is a tough stance to take, but if her shopping addiction is jeopardizing her financial well-being, it may be necessary.
- Contact an attorney for advice. This is probably a last resort but one you might have to consider if you want to protect your mother’s financial well-being.
Thank you for contacting us, Susan! I hope you can help your mother overcome this challenge.