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being repeatly burgled

kpp

Registered User
May 26, 2014
6
My mom aged 75 has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia, I live a 2 hours drive away, my brother lives locally. She lives on her own after the recent death of her partner of 20 years.

Mom is under the care of a memory clinic, in the early stages, not at physical risk, in conversation she repeats herself a lot. She does not accept she has a memory problem beyond normal aging.

She misplaces things at home, and concludes she is burgled every time she goes out but most recently also while she goes upstairs. The door locks have been changed 3 times in 3 months. She is convinced she knows the "culprit". There is never any evidence of a burglary, nothing broken, "stolen" items turn up eventually, she’s never caught the burglar red handed. The only evidence she can offer is that things have moved around the house. Her explanation of how the person gets in is becoming absurd (e.g. he's a builder with a master set of keys to everyone's house and monitors the house constantly waiting for her to go out), logical argument is dismissed with a "I don't know" and she starts the conversation over again as if the last 5 mins conversation never happened.

She phones my brother at all times of the day and night to say she's burgled again, every day this week, often distressed. Of course, the burglary never happened but in her mind it is very real. I read with alarm that a poor woman of similar age to my mom in Bristol died after a burglary this week, reading between the lines she died from the resulting stress. So I need to address this behavior by my mom but we don't know what we can do.

Having the locks changed did help her a little. She is also open to the idea having a web camera fitted for when she is out of the house, for extra reassurance. I’m not sure if it would help because the family know no one is actually entering the house but I’m willing to try anything.

From the thread in this forum, belief of being burgled is a common symptom of memory loss. I haven't seen any coping strategies for either the sufferer or family.

I appeal to anyone with experience of this kind of paranoid obsession about being burgled. Is there any advice you can give to calm her down or enable her to accept the cause is a memory problem and that she is not being repeatedly burgled? I spoke to her memory clinic consultant but the only advice he gave was to try to change the subject, not to challenge her story because it will only raise the stress levels. It doesn't reduce the calls though, in fact they are getting more frequent.

Kevin
 

Noorza

Registered User
Jun 8, 2012
6,542
I don't think it will help but it might be worth a shot, could the community police officers come around to reassure her. Perhaps having it from a uniform might help. They did this for my son after we did have a break in to our shed and he was terrified but he doesn't have dementia.
 

WILLIAMR

Account Closed
Apr 12, 2014
1,078
I am supposed to be stealing money.

My step mother was in a care home recently but only lasted a week.
Another resident got it in to his head I was stealing his money.
His relatives said I would have had a job as his money was in various bank accounts and the material relating to these accounts were in their home.
Since my step mother has passed away the codes for the doors have been changed so I could not get in to the home without the help of the receptionist.
Also the entrances are covered by CCTV.


William
 

Kevinl

Registered User
Aug 24, 2013
4,771
Salford
You can buy a couple of security cameras and a recorded for very little money these days, so you set it up inside her house and the next time she says the burglar's visited you play it back and nothing, which from the sound of it is the most likely outcome, what next? Either she's doing it as a way of getting attention, it may just be she's become lonely and "the burglar" is a ploy to get you to visit or it may be in her head she believes it in which case proving it never happened may make it stop. If the explanation is loneliness and burglar is proved not to exist he may get replaced by someone or something else, with my Mother it was the smell of gas or the smell of burning, what can you do even if you're 99.99% certain she's made it up you still have to go just in case.
K
 

ameliasaunt

Registered User
May 31, 2014
4
Kent
My mother in law is behaving in a very similar way. She was actually burgled about 10 years ago before any sign of Alzheimers symptoms (she was only fully diagnosed last week) and has been hiding things for years since. Now anything that 'goes missing' is down to someone breaking in. Usually she has just forgotten where she has put it down or hidden it. We have tried changing locks etc and thats made no difference. We have installed cctv and this does help alleviate her concerns once she sees the footage but it doesnt stop the initial very stressed reaction. We are now in the process of building an annex on the side of the house so she can have some independence but be right next door. :(
 

kpp

Registered User
May 26, 2014
6
I just spent an hour on the phone with my mom. She had lost her keys. She found a spare key to her back door during the search, tried it in the front and back door several times, panicked when the back door was subsequently found open/closed/open. She concluded the burglar is in the house and went searching for him, angry and ready to defend herself and property at any cost. My protest that no-one was there and she’s just forgotten where she left her keys was ignored. If this was a real burglar, I would have phoned the police by this point but I know it to be real only in her world. Anyway, no burglar was found and the keys turned up in a new hiding place. Even then she wouldn't accept that the burglar doesn't exist and I had to terminate the phone call.

The lost/misplaced/stolen keys are a constant issue. Her locks have been changed 3 times in the last 3 months, once being by a locksmith which the family found out by accident. We have tried to monitor the keys, to keep complete sets of spares limited to close family members, however she has a tendency to get numerous spares cut and we cannot monitor this.

I just bought a lost key finder off the internet, one that bleeps when a button pushed on a transmitter. This isn’t the first time she’s lost her keys in the house and I don’t think I can cope with a repeat of today’s phone call. Fingers crossed this device works for her.

Thank you all for the thoughts and ideas. I’m now not so sure a web camera will work. I know it will not show anyone entering the house and fully expect her to claim the burglar has the technical know-how to beat it. Her explanations for the burglar getting in are getting more bizarre, today it was because the person visited the house several months ago, he must have stolen the key then and because he is fast, he gets in and out without her seeing him.

I can sympathise with WIllianr, being innocent and accused of stealing or burglary isn’t pleasant. We all know it is the sad and desperate attempt of someone in denial of this cruel illness to explain their experiences.

I think having someone explain the burglar is caught isn’t going to help. She’ll still have memory problems and I expect she will blame someone else instead. The burglar suspect has been changed over the last month from one person to his son.
Kevinl may be on to something. Maybe it is loneliness coupled with the illness. It would explain how she manages to repeatedly tell her memory consultant that everything is just ticketiboo but tells everyone else she is being burgled; how does she manage to remember to say that when she has a bad memory??? Perhaps it is loneliness with a slight memory loss, making the stories up as she goes along.

One other thought, she says she is fed up with being burgled and will move house. It may be moment of frustration or a genuine search for a solution. A warden controlled accommodation could be an option, at least we’d have someone we could ask to check on her and there would be lots of other people around her all the time.

One final thought for today, I suspect she had been drinking alcohol. She has been to a club for lunch with her friends. Could alcohol make the memory loss worse? If she’s been out with friends today, loneliness wouldn't be an issue but the memory loss fuelled by alcohol, …maybe.


Kevin
 

Ann Mac

Registered User
Oct 17, 2013
3,693
Thank you all for the thoughts and ideas. I’m now not so sure a web camera will work. I know it will not show anyone entering the house and fully expect her to claim the burglar has the technical know-how to beat it. Her explanations for the burglar getting in are getting more bizarre, today it was because the person visited the house several months ago, he must have stolen the key then and because he is fast, he gets in and out without her seeing him.




Kevin
It never fails to amaze me how, when My Mum in law is in the middle of fretting/fuming over some non-existent event, she can in a flash come up with amazingly convoluted and complex answers and reasons to support whatever it is she believes :( A week or so back she claimed to have bought an antique, whilst out shopping that morning, in her old home town ( Never mind that she no longer lives there, hadn't visited the town for over a week, hasn't been out solo for over 8 months) and how I had phoned her, persuaded her to bring the 'antique' to show me - and then I'd stolen it! I tried asking her how, if she was out shopping, I had managed to phone her, being as she doesn't carry a mobile? Straight back at me with the explanation that I had memorised the number for the call box in the shopping precinct, and phoned her on it just as she happened to be passing - so I reminded her the phone box had been removed, several years before - ahhhh, she said - she watched a new one being installed 'last week'.

I've more or less given up trying to 'prove' that whatever it is she is paranoid about can't have happened/be happening. The only logic she has is that which will support what she is saying, and the fact that it may be bizarre/impossible/whatever, doesn't come into it - it makes sense to her, and that's all she can understand at this point. So I totally get where you are coming from when you say that she will come up with some reason for why no burglar will be caught on camera. Little white lies and distraction will only occasionally work - one of the things I'm slowly coming to realise is that when Mil is sundowning (the period during the day, usually late afternoon, when delusions and hallucinations and confusion rule in her head) she is just so totally focused on what she believes is happening that LWL's are countered with the same determination and convoluted explanations as logic or 'proof' are countered with, and and no distraction is as strong as her delusion or belief at that moment. If, in that situation, I tried telling Mil that the burglar had been 'caught' she would most probably tell me 'Ahhhhhh - but he must have an accomplice, and he's still breaking in" - its just the way this awful illness makes her mind work :(

In a sense, I am lucky that I have Mil living here - this at least allows us to use PRN medication which will often calm her and help her to let go of the paranoia/delusion (till next time :rolleyes: ). When you just can't be on the spot all the time, it sounds to me to be nearly impossible to be able to do anything that might help :( Perhaps the warden controlled/sheltered accommodation is the way forward, to give the poor lady some peace of mind.

As for the ability to put on a hell of a good front when faced with her consultant - you'll see how often this comes up as you read more posts on the forums - its a common feature. I liken it to the way a child can be good in school - but then lets rip like a dervish as soon as they get home.

The only thing I can suggest is to speak to her GP/CPN/consultant and explain the distress that these delusions are causing her, and see if there is anything they can suggest, probably medication wise, that might help her.

Good luck x
 
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ameliasaunt

Registered User
May 31, 2014
4
Kent
I just spent an hour on the phone with my mom. She had lost her keys. She found a spare key to her back door during the search, tried it in the front and back door several times, panicked when the back door was subsequently found open/closed/open. She concluded the burglar is in the house and went searching for him, angry and ready to defend herself and property at any cost. My protest that no-one was there and she’s just forgotten where she left her keys was ignored. If this was a real burglar, I would have phoned the police by this point but I know it to be real only in her world. Anyway, no burglar was found and the keys turned up in a new hiding place. Even then she wouldn't accept that the burglar doesn't exist and I had to terminate the phone call.

The lost/misplaced/stolen keys are a constant issue. Her locks have been changed 3 times in the last 3 months, once being by a locksmith which the family found out by accident. We have tried to monitor the keys, to keep complete sets of spares limited to close family members, however she has a tendency to get numerous spares cut and we cannot monitor this.

I just bought a lost key finder off the internet, one that bleeps when a button pushed on a transmitter. This isn’t the first time she’s lost her keys in the house and I don’t think I can cope with a repeat of today’s phone call. Fingers crossed this device works for her.

Thank you all for the thoughts and ideas. I’m now not so sure a web camera will work. I know it will not show anyone entering the house and fully expect her to claim the burglar has the technical know-how to beat it. Her explanations for the burglar getting in are getting more bizarre, today it was because the person visited the house several months ago, he must have stolen the key then and because he is fast, he gets in and out without her seeing him.

I can sympathise with WIllianr, being innocent and accused of stealing or burglary isn’t pleasant. We all know it is the sad and desperate attempt of someone in denial of this cruel illness to explain their experiences.

I think having someone explain the burglar is caught isn’t going to help. She’ll still have memory problems and I expect she will blame someone else instead. The burglar suspect has been changed over the last month from one person to his son.
Kevinl may be on to something. Maybe it is loneliness coupled with the illness. It would explain how she manages to repeatedly tell her memory consultant that everything is just ticketiboo but tells everyone else she is being burgled; how does she manage to remember to say that when she has a bad memory??? Perhaps it is loneliness with a slight memory loss, making the stories up as she goes along.

One other thought, she says she is fed up with being burgled and will move house. It may be moment of frustration or a genuine search for a solution. A warden controlled accommodation could be an option, at least we’d have someone we could ask to check on her and there would be lots of other people around her all the time.

One final thought for today, I suspect she had been drinking alcohol. She has been to a club for lunch with her friends. Could alcohol make the memory loss worse? If she’s been out with friends today, loneliness wouldn't be an issue but the memory loss fuelled by alcohol, …maybe.


Kevin
We are also having an issue with alcohol. It definitely makes her worse. The boys are trying to ensure she doesnt drink and check the property for empty bottles a number of times a week. The only problem is she is an expert at hiding things so we can never be completely certain.

We have a key fob locater and it definitely speeds up the process of finding the keys. We have also sewn a GPS locater into her handbag lining as she loses this too. This can be accessed using a mobile phone app once you are within 10m of it. Both devices are helping.
 

kpp

Registered User
May 26, 2014
6
Hello,

It has been several months and so I owe an update here. I fitted a camera in the garden, one that records to the internet any movement.

After a couple of claims that she has been burgled, I checked the recordings and of course found no sign a burglar.

In addition, she has carers three times a day to check she is eating properly and takingher tablets.

The claims of burglaries have since stopped. There are occasional references to things being stolen from the house (which always turn up eventually) but she doesn't say it is a burglar anymore or call the police.
 

jen54

Registered User
May 20, 2014
235
unfortunately, my mum is starting to get worse in respect of thinking people are getting in the house- she has an obsession with her rubbish at present, and has taken to ringing me with tales of how it has appeared while she is upstairs, and that it is not her- she asked if we had checked the loft in case someone is in there :( The problem is as she has such bad short term memory, she doesn't recall putting stuff where she does, doesn't even recognise the wrappers- she rang last night saying someone may be trying to drive her out of her house by making her think someone was in there- it is so hard, I tried to reassure her and said we had looked recently around and all is secure - but within 5 minutes(I tried to change subject) she was repeating the whole story. It is impossible to reassure when someone forgets so quickly, more and more she seems to be making up stories to cover the fact she cannot remember things, and as she is worried about it all, she dreams and those dream become real explanations of what happened. the other day she was angry when I arrived, as "someone" had swept into her house, asked if they could borrow her lotion- and taken it-and not returned in, she was totally sure that had happened, I looked for it, found it in the bathroom, and then she said perhaps she had dreampt it all. Even if we humour her and say we have sorted it- she doesn't recall any of it, and it starts again- very wearing- we had the children coming in and stealing things for a while, now it's someone hiding in her loft, she seems to get fixated on a line of thought and can't shake it
 

Bobtop

Registered User
Mar 19, 2015
11
This all sounds so familiar to me! I wish I had known about this forum earlier to share with you all.....

My mum was exactly the same - she lived alone and believed she had been burgled and someone was moving things about and had the locks on the house changed 3 times! She has Alzheimers (only diagnosed in November 2014, but has been displaying symptoms for at least 2 years before then).

With hindsight I now know that there is nothing you can do to persuade them or any action that will reassure them, as it seems to be a common feature of dementia due to the severe short term memory loss. It caused my mum extreme distress and anxiety and was a very worrying for me living so far away.

We tried to ensure that she had the correct medication to help her, arranged carers support to ensure that she eat regularly and stayed hydrated. This did seem to help, but her anxiety and panic attacks still continued and after several hospital admissions the only option was to find a caring, supportive and secure Care Home for her.
 

ppm

Registered User
Jun 10, 2014
52
I recognise alot of these symptoms from my father, and have also not found a good way of dealing with it. The thought then occurred to me: would it be useful/advisable to show him this thread? He is aware of his condition (even though he remains convinced that people are hiding or stealing things), so maybe reading about these experiences from other people might help put his mind at rest?
 

Mikus

Registered User
Aug 28, 2014
1
My mother too was convinced she was being burgled, with people following her down the drive and taking her keys that she had definitely put on the worktop by the door. We thought we had fixed this by attaching her keys to a safety pin which she pinned to her trousers, telling her the buglars would not be able to get them there.
Until the day they did, and we turned the whole house upside down with no sign of the keys and mum protesting that they were no longer on her trousers. My husband bought new locks and was about to fit them when I thought to "frisk" mum and sure enough the keys were still pinned where she had put them. The ingenuity of the burglars is astounding - they had obviousy put them back having copied them. We also used to take the locks out and put the same ones back telling her it was all safe now. Eventually this resolved when she also imagined that the police were coming round to investigate the burglaries. This reassured her although neither were real.
There is no point arguing or using logic as you can never keep up with the inventiveness of the disease. We've found agreeing with her but not making an issue of it or even being overly sympathetic and changing the subject no matter how many times she returned to the topic was the only way to cope.
 

JayGun

Registered User
Jun 24, 2013
291
We did the camera thing. Spent about £300. She just dismissed it as she dismisses anything that doesn't fit with her delusion. The cameras must have been tampered with obviously. :D

We realised in the end that this burglar delusion is actually self protective, and that on some level she'd rather attribute missing items to a burglar than take on the distress caused by having to accept that her mind is going. :(
 

Paulette395

Registered User
Jan 18, 2014
35
similar trouble with dad

In fact this was a ghost who had taken his things. He vowed that she had taken his new passport on delivery and this held up his journey to live with us in France until I was able to order another one with all the complications of witnessing as you can imagine. The neighbour took receipt of this one for us. The next year on selling dad's house we found the first passport hidden in his gramaphone.
When he came to France his ghost was not on the plane and so we persuaded him that she had not come. This worked well and each time things went missing we explained that it was his illness . He had put them in another place, but had no memory of it. He accepted that and was actually more content with that explanation of the mystery. If you think your mum would be up to confronting the illness and be easier in her mind knowing what was happening do it. I can only say that in dad's case it worked-until he got worse and did other things. You never win-it just changes.
 

Polaris

Registered User
Feb 5, 2015
17
My mom aged 75 has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia, I live a 2 hours drive away, my brother lives locally. She lives on her own after the recent death of her partner of 20 years.

Mom is under the care of a memory clinic, in the early stages, not at physical risk, in conversation she repeats herself a lot. She does not accept she has a memory problem beyond normal aging.

She misplaces things at home, and concludes she is burgled every time she goes out but most recently also while she goes upstairs. The door locks have been changed 3 times in 3 months. She is convinced she knows the "culprit". There is never any evidence of a burglary, nothing broken, "stolen" items turn up eventually, she’s never caught the burglar red handed. The only evidence she can offer is that things have moved around the house. Her explanation of how the person gets in is becoming absurd (e.g. he's a builder with a master set of keys to everyone's house and monitors the house constantly waiting for her to go out), logical argument is dismissed with a "I don't know" and she starts the conversation over again as if the last 5 mins conversation never happened.

She phones my brother at all times of the day and night to say she's burgled again, every day this week, often distressed. Of course, the burglary never happened but in her mind it is very real. I read with alarm that a poor woman of similar age to my mom in Bristol died after a burglary this week, reading between the lines she died from the resulting stress. So I need to address this behavior by my mom but we don't know what we can do.

Having the locks changed did help her a little. She is also open to the idea having a web camera fitted for when she is out of the house, for extra reassurance. I’m not sure if it would help because the family know no one is actually entering the house but I’m willing to try anything.

From the thread in this forum, belief of being burgled is a common symptom of memory loss. I haven't seen any coping strategies for either the sufferer or family.

I appeal to anyone with experience of this kind of paranoid obsession about being burgled. Is there any advice you can give to calm her down or enable her to accept the cause is a memory problem and that she is not being repeatedly burgled? I spoke to her memory clinic consultant but the only advice he gave was to try to change the subject, not to challenge her story because it will only raise the stress levels. It doesn't reduce the calls though, in fact they are getting more frequent.

Kevin
It must be very distressing Kevin. After our family's similar experience, I would urge you and everyone here with an elderly relative with neuro/psychiatric symptoms to ask their GP to test their levels of vitamin B12. My relative was misdiagnosed with dementia and ME and referred to a memory clinic after a dental injection inactivated her already low B12. This resulted in similar incidents and hallucinations, which you've described.

B12 injections eventually gave her back her mind and an active life but, unfortunately, her GP's failure to act urgently appears to have left her with some permanent memory damage.

There is more information on line on the latest research and treatment for vitamin B12 deficiency, which, unfortunately, does not appear to be getting through to the surgeries. There must be many people out there suffering unnecessarily because of this and it is an absolute scandal!

I don't appear to be able to post the links here but, if you search BMJ - A.A. Hunt B12 deficiency latest research document, it should come up.

Kind regards
 
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Rosie56

Registered User
Oct 5, 2013
75
I've heard of B12 injections being used in America because elderly patients lost the ability to derive B12 from food in the normal way. It can also affect people who eat little or no animal food and are otherwise in excellent health. The test used was the MMA and it had a good effect on the patients' memory and clearheadedness.

I think I'll be approaching my mum's surgery about this.
 

Lindajc

Registered User
Feb 22, 2015
2
Dunfermline, Fife
I can sympathise. My Mum first showed signs of this last year. Initially someone was coming in while she was out and moved things like shoes and clothes about. Then it changed to leaving her food. Then they were stealing money.

Every time I tried to reassure her that nobody could get in,she was still sure someone had a key. We got the locks changed and things calmed down for a short while but started up again just before she was admitted to hospital with a urine infection in December.

She is still in the system - now, after intervention by myself, been diagnosed with mixed dementia.

I don't think there is any way to make the 'burgled' situation better. It is in their heads and no amount of reason seems to shift it.

My Mum was taken on a home visit recently and when I saw her after she said 'The house was a mess. Someones living there. I knew someone had a key. I didn't say anything to the girls that took me there though'.
 

jen54

Registered User
May 20, 2014
235
I have had to put parcel tape around mums loft hatch-as she has started climbing the step ladder to check if anyone is in there :( I said that no one is in your loft, but I will tape it up so you can see the tape isnt moved, just to reassure you, -just hope she doesn't move it:S
she was really cross about all the catfood pouches left on the drainer-saying whoever it is is overfeeding my cats-in truth, she has no idea when she last feeds them so they mew..she feeds:( she insists on leaving the rubbish to show me..then wonders why there is a load of rubbish there-as she never leaves muck around :( we try to throw it out as soon as we arrive or she will have to show us every bit and query what it is, worryingly she used to accept that she must have done it-now she is agitated and knows it isn't her..