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Advice please

moddy62

New member
Dec 29, 2019
6
0
Hastings
My poor Mum is hiding her purse, keys, phone etc because she thinks her neighbour is braking in and stealing from her, it's very upsetting for her and I"m just a bit lost with how best to deal with it, usually the items are found when I go to visit her, Ive tried to reassure her that she's safe and just misplacing things but she gets upset and angry, I believe its a common problem with dementia sufferers so any advice would be really appreciated, thank you.
 

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
74,354
0
Kent
Hello @moddy62

My husband used to put his keys and wallet in a `safe` place and every day it was a different place and we spent ages looking for them.

Your mum is using safe places for a different reason if she is blaming her neighbour.

Is there any way you can reassure your mum all the doors and windows are locked and her neighbour has no chance of breaking in.

Does she use a handbag? If so she could keep all these items in her bag [ maybe an across the body small shoulder bag ] so they are with her all the time.
 

Sarasa

Volunteer Host
Apr 13, 2018
3,675
0
Hi @moddy62 and welcome to Dementia Talking Point. My mother was also convinced her neighbours were breaking in, stealing things and then bringing them back. Mum being the feisty woman that she was would go and bang on their door and shout abuse at them, including once dressed in nowt but a bath towel as she thought they'd stolen her electricity. She also called the police on them on various occasions. The police were brilliant and it would help for a while, then mum would lose something else and it would all start again. In the end the only solution was moving mum into care which is probably not what you want to hear.
The family tried three approaches. My husband told mum straight out she was mistaken, and I tried logic. So I said things like 'is it more likely that the neighbours got into your flat sight unseen and moved your purse from your handbag to your shopping bag or did you just put the purse there in the first place?' Even with reassurances from me that this was something we've all done mum was having none of it. The only approach that sort of worked was my brother distracting her with suggestions of a glass of wine, tea and cake or watching a good film.
It's tricky, specially if like me you don't live near and only visit a couple of times a week. You may find this thread Compassionate Communication with the Memory Impaired useful, but don't beat yourself up if you don't always manage it.
 
Last edited:

moddy62

New member
Dec 29, 2019
6
0
Hastings
Hello @moddy62

My husband used to put his keys and wallet in a `safe` place and every day it was a different place and we spent ages looking for them.

Your mum is using safe places for a different reason if she is blaming her neighbour.

Is there any way you can reassure your mum all the doors and windows are locked and her neighbour has no chance of breaking in.

Does she use a handbag? If so she could keep all these items in her bag [ maybe an across the body small shoulder bag ] so they are with her all the time.
 

moddy62

New member
Dec 29, 2019
6
0
Hastings
Thanks for your reply,
I've tried to say that her flat is secure I've even had a camera installed which helps a bit but she often unplugs it so I can't show her the playback!
Im really lost as to know how to help and it must be so frightening for her.
Thanks again x
 

Jaded'n'faded

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
2,021
0
High Peak
I've been following the TP forums for years (and years) and this comes up time and again. In terms of dementia behaviour it's an absolute classic - it could almost be listed as a mid-stage symptom!

For some reason, dementia logic tells the person that if they can't find something, the neighbours must have broken in and stolen it. How they get to this theory is anyone's guess. Forget any other possibilities - moving the item, putting it somewhere safe, etc, no - it must have been the neighbours. I would love to know why they come to this bizarre conclusion because it is so common and quite baffling for those around them. With my mum it was often her favourite knickers being stolen from the care home. She'd give other residents (and carers!) dirty looks and mutter to me, 'I bet she's got them!'

I'm not sure anyone has found a foolproof answer but certainly, it takes ingenuity and imagination...
 

Sarasa

Volunteer Host
Apr 13, 2018
3,675
0
With my mother things going missing it was the tipping point between her more or less managing OK to the slide into needing more and more help. When she first mentioned she thought someone had taken her hole punch, I said if she really thought that I was seriously worried about her mental capacity. She claimed it was a joke and things were fine for a few weeks until new neighbours moved in next door. I didn't realise till much later that the neighbour who had moved out had been giving mum an awful lot of support. Mum got off on the wrong foot with the new neighbours as she told them off for not putting their rubbish in the bins. She then decided they were criminals (they were school teachers) and pretty much treated them like that for the eighteen months she stayed at home till she moved into care.
@moddy62, how well do you know your mums neighbours. It might be worth asking them to keep an eye on her and let you know of any concerns. I'm sure your mum won't want them told that she has dementia, but explaining it to them might stop any problems. The neighbour underneath my mother sent her a few rather nasty notes for instance.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
15,690
0
South coast
I agree with @Jaded'n'faded - accusations of stealing are so common it is almost diagnostic!

When mum reached mid-stage dementia she fired her cleaner because she said that she was stealing. I knew very little about dementia at this point and was horrified that someone would steal from my mum, but even after the cleaner was gone mum said she was coming in and taking things and she must have taken the spare keys (that mum couldn't find) and was using them to let herself in. I changed the locks, but mum was still convinced that she was getting in. When I pointed out that everything was locked,the cleaner couldn't possibly have spare keys and so how could she get in, mum said she could get in through the letter box!I

Soon afterwards mum accused an old and very dear friend of hers of stealing and then she accused me and wouldn't let me into her home. After that mum went downhill very quickly and moved into a care home. She was completely paranoid when she went into the care home, but once she settled all her fears about people stealing from her disappeared.
 

heatherj

Registered User
May 26, 2021
12
0
My mum has been the same for some time now. Absolutely convinced that her next door neighbours are coming in and taking things. She does know that these things always reappear so accuses them of "messing with my head". I live 250 miles away and wanted to put cameras in but mum's social worker said mum had to consent. So I shamelessly used this as a persuasion tactic to get cameras in. I now regularly reassure her that there is no movement in the house while she is out, or in bed. For example, today she was out and told me that "they" have been in and left her taps running. I assured her no one had been in. Asked her "before you went out wouldn't cleaning your teeth have been one of the last things you did? Do you think it's possible you left them on in your haste to get out?".

The problem of accusing the neighbours hasn't gone away, but she is more likely now to accept that they don't come in, though she's still not totally sure.

We have also had problems with unplugging things but the cameras I've got have rechargeable batteries. They are normally left plugged in all the time, but if she does unplug them, the battery will keep them running for a few days until I can get someone to plug them back in (checking that things haven't been unplugged is one of the tasks on the carers list). These cameras were a bit more expensive but worth it.
 

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