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Qn: My parent is excessively buying things. What should I do?

My parent with dementia is excessively buying things

My father-in-law has a habit of buying things. He buys big ticket items. When hes alone, he would go out and wander outside. He loves to go to shops and linger.

Every time we would tell him about his problem, he would insist loudly that he is okay.

He is suspicious of us and insists on having his own bank account. He spends money freely and is easily swayed. We are really on tender hooks every time he is alone. Can someone relate and help us?

Caregiver tips:

Try to understand the motivations behind their behavour

The need to provide some sort of comfort for his family seems to be very strong. I see it as a good thing. This makes him feel empowered and needed.

Perhaps, you can distract your dad into providing for the family in other ways…. He seems to love the family a lot if he keeps buying back stuff for everyone!

Get support from the community

He probably goes to the same few shops. It might be good to go down and explain to them not to honour his purchases. They can still ‘pretend’ to let him buy it.

I had this problem with my grandmother who often went gambling. She pawned large amounts of jewellery and would forget about it.

Limit their spending

If your parent has a formal diagnosis, you can show it to the bank and they may have some preventive measures. The letter from the doctor is legal proof and the bank should insist on you having access to the account and you can ask bank to put max spending at $500 or less.

The banks are better prepared for such situations nowadays but there are still regulatory limitations to what is possible.

For OCBC Singapore, I think there is a special scheme for seniors, where the bank will encourage the seniors to have an emergency contact. This contact can be helpful when the bank needs to contact family members.

This was a conversation extracted from an online community of caregivers in Singapore. The responses are suggestions from caregivers as well as individuals who are familiar with dementia.

We create localised games and activities for seniors. It’s time to help them break away from the stress of aging. Get these games and make them smile .

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