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HORIZON HOME CARE BLOG

Mom's Shopping Addiction Jeopardizes Her Ability to Pay for Health Care

Question 

My family is worried that our mother's spending habits will jeopardize her future care needs. Mom is in her 80's and spends money like crazy. She constantly buys things online for her grandchildren, children and herself. She's paying minimums on high-interest rate credit cards, for goodness sake! Obviously, she can't afford this lifestyle, nor will she be able to afford the costs of health care for someone her age when that time inevitably comes. Before you suggest that we take her credit cards away, know that she is of sound mind, sort of. Is there anything we can do to prevent Mom from spending the money she needs for the future?
 

Answer

Normally, I am amused to see someone living life to the fullest in their later years; however, that is clearly not happening here. Your mother is being irresponsible. Reckless spending and minimum payments on credit cards are absurd at her age, as I doubt she has any windfall profits or significant income coming in her near future. 

The behavior you describe sounds somewhat addictive, which means it will likely be difficult to quit or change. Shopping addiction is real, and the convenience of online shopping makes it even easier to slip into. In order to change her behavior, Mom needs a plan she can put into action. That is why I suggest that your mother receive financial advice from a professional. Based on the information you provided, persuading her to consult an expert may be easier than convincing her to listen to your personal financial advice. Do not take this personally. That being said, convincing your mother to see a professional may still be challenging.

 

Changing Mom's Spending Behavior

  • Purchase one or two financial consultation sessions as a gift, splitting the cost with your siblings. Your mother may be less likely to turn down a gift from her children than she would be to turn down their advice.

Financial planners can sober some people into action, just not everyone. If your mother's behavior is a recently-developed naivety, she will be more likely to change. Lifelong irresponsible spending habits, however, are much more difficult to reverse. If seeing a financial specialist does not work, she may benefit from mental health counseling. Unfortunately, if this behavior is longstanding you may be facing a future with a mother who is broke. Without change or unlimited funds, she will likely become impoverished.

I hope you are able to have some impact on your mother’s spending behavior with an intervention. If not, I would start planning for what her care needs might be in the future and figure out how Medicaid works in your state.

I wish you the best.
 

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