Our Mom, who later in life developed macular degeneration, and became so weak she required a transport chair, became somewhat fearful and frequently asked “Where is my purse?” I first thought that her paranoia was comical, but I later learned by delving deeper that it represented something much more meaningful.
I tried putting myself in her place. With poor vision, perhaps being able to “feel” her purse nearby was reassuring. Maybe it was a throwback to being raised during the Great Depression Era when families had very little money and had to make do with far less than we have today. Was it mistrust? Forgetfulness? Mom knew every compartment of her purse…money here, keys in the side pocket, cough drops there, photos and identification in the plastic inserts, checkbook on the other side. Bless her heart; she kept track of her personal items very well.
Senior Control Issues
Having control of a purse or wallet may symbolize a senior’s “financial security.” driver’s licenses, credit cards, social security cards, keys, photos, money, etc., represent hard-earned tokens of her/his life. Thoughts of losing a purse or wallet, or having it snatched away, may spark feelings of stress and insecurity in elders. In today’s world, many seniors are vulnerable to being bilked and victimized. A senior needs someone to be their advocate and look out for their best interest when it comes to finances and safety.
A Sense of Humor is Vital
I recall a funny yet true account my Cousin relayed to me. His elder father, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease during his final years, was eventually placed in a group care home. Since his father was always accustomed to having a wallet on his person, a ten-dollar bill was left in his wallet that first day. The next day, lo and behold! His father’s wallet now contained $25! It must have been a good poker game…who knows for sure!
Running out of money is one of ten top fears experienced by elderly adults
Home Instead Senior Care in the San Francisco Bay area listed the ten primary fears of elderly adults: loss of independence, declining health, running out of money, not being able to live at home, death of a spouse or other family member, inability to manage daily living activities, not being able to drive, isolation or loneliness, strangers caring for them, and fear of falling or getting hurt.
Don’t be surprised if one day we’ll be afraid of losing our purses and wallets!