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Leaving a benign obsession alone
Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2018 5:27 PM
Joined: 11/3/2018
Posts: 120

First things first, I'm okay. I'm still here; my Zoloft has been increased and while I'm still depressed the ideation isn't there like it was.

Anyway, today I had a moment where I just had to laugh at my father because of one his obsessions: the mail. He is so concerned that someone will steal his mail (even though we have it redirected to my brother's house so bills won't get lost) he has to check the mailbox several times a day. Sometimes, he will camp out in the garage and ambush the mail carrier.

Today, an old friend of his came by and took him to the cemetary to pay respects to former colleagues. The friend told me on the way home that he was anxious to get home so he could get the mail. She told him it was Sunday and he said, "What does that have to do with it?"

He got home, went straight to the mailbox, and looked in it. I told Dad it was Sunday and there's no mail delivery. He said, "Well, just in case."

The friend went home, and I heard Dad go out to the front porch and check the mailbox. He then went into the front yard and picked up a weed, threw it away, then came back and checked the mailbox again.

If he didn't have Alzheimer's I'd say, "What the hell, Dad?! You think the invisible mail fairy came along while you were in the front yard?" But he does so I just have to let him have his obsession with the mailbox. He cannot learn new behaviors and since this one is harmless, I'm just letting him go with it.

NC caregiver
Posted: Sunday, December 2, 2018 8:39 PM
Joined: 2/7/2018
Posts: 857

So glad you are doing OK!  Your Dad's obsession with mail makes me smile . Moms obsession is watching activity on the road in front of our house like a hawk.  And there's not a lot of activity!  I think you should put some cards in the mail box for him . Would make his day
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 1:49 AM
Joined: 11/13/2014
Posts: 2115

Love the story, thank you! Made me smile,too. Like NC idea! Just think of all the exercise he is getting.
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 7:22 AM
Joined: 1/18/2017
Posts: 23

First, I'm glad you're okay! I had to chuckle at your dad; my mom has an obsession with her 'papers'. Just what she means by that is often unclear, she doesn't always know exactly what she wants and rejects my guesses, but she'll go through her purse or wallet every couple of minutes to make sure that she has them, whatever they are; she'll also search around her room. She'll ask me over and over if she has them, or if I have them, then she forgets what she was looking for in the first place. If she has to have one persistent obsession, I'm glad it's this. She's had some that, for me, couldn't end soon enough.
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 7:44 AM
Joined: 2/29/2016
Posts: 1268

Glad you are still here. Great idea to have the mail rerouted. The junk mail and circulars that come through are more than enough to keep anyone busy. You are right, this obsession is harmless and eventually will pass.
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 8:12 AM
Joined: 3/7/2012
Posts: 2297

Thank you for checking back in and letting us know how you are doing. 

As for your dad's obsession with checking the mail box it is harmless. And this too might pass and he'll move to something else or nothing, you never know. His mind can't 'accept' that a Sunday there is no mail - so let him check it. Of course I'm hoping he is safe going back and forth to the mail box. Meaning your not on a busy road, etc. 

On a personal note my DH isn't obsessed with the what's in the mail, just the fact there is mail. Some days he asks if I'd heard the mail truck go by other days he forgets until I ask him if he'd like to get the mail. When he brings the mail inside he could care less about it and just puts it on the counter.  He thinks he's helping me out by getting the mail and I just thank him. No harm no foul.


Rescue mom
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 9:43 AM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 601

Ncsylvia, my mother was also obscessed with her “papers” . Finding them, “going over” them, needing to see them etc. looking through purse, drawers, closets, just as you said. 

She could never quite say which ones, but occasionally the word “taxes” or “checkbook”would  come out. Luckily she’d forget or get distracted pretty fast.


Eric L
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 12:30 PM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1016

The only caveat I would add to this being a harmless obsession - my MIL was absolutely fixated on making sure the windows and curtains we closed. All things said, a relatively harmless obsession, until she decided to check them here and there after everyone had gone to bed. She'd wander the house in the dark (and crash into stuff from time to time) to make sure everything was closed up.

All things considered - her "relatively harmless obsession" eventually became a point of concern for us.
Posted: Monday, December 3, 2018 12:55 PM
Joined: 11/3/2018
Posts: 120

Eric L wrote:
All things considered - her "relatively harmless obsession" eventually became a point of concern for us.
Thanks for pointing that out as I hadn't considered that. I may have to turn on the motion sensor in the hallway to alert me if he goes out there during the night. He hasn't yet. Cross your fingers.

Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 10:01 AM
Joined: 6/12/2016
Posts: 319

Hi Everyone! I can relate! My Grannie was obsessed with checking the windows and doors. We couldn’t go check the mail without her locking us out! She also obsessed with unplugging everything just in case there was a lightning storm. What ever she saw on the weather channel would set her off. She didn’t understand that the report didn’t always apply to our area. We eventually didn’t let her watch the weather or the news. We also put duct tape over outlets.

Good luck everyone!

Posted: Tuesday, December 4, 2018 1:17 PM
Joined: 6/20/2016
Posts: 1836

My mother had a FAR worse time with the mail obsession than she did with not being allowed to drive anymore.  Her day was centered around the mail, what might come, has the mail come yet, where is the mail....augh.

I recall a few years ago we had a daughter whose mother spent all day walking back and forth to the post office, I think she eventually had to place her mom because mom had a fall during one of the walks and she was beginning to do it at night.
Eric L
Posted: Thursday, December 6, 2018 12:39 AM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1016

abc - I got locked out a couple times when I was working out in the garage. MIL would do her rounds, not see anyone, and lock up because she figured she was all alone. Every set of keys that we have in the house (even our spare car keys) now has a house key, garage key, and gate key because of her earlier obseessions.

My MIL was also obsessed with turning things off because they ‘could catch fire’. I suppose it was a throw back to her youth (60s) when houses still had knob & tube wiring and such. When my kids started telling us that we had to turn stuff off because it could catch on fire, at least we knew who told them.