Missing - claimed "stolen"

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by autolycus, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. autolycus

    autolycus Registered User

    Apr 13, 2015
    Kingston on Thames
    My wife is obsessed by the idea of strangers entering the house and stealing her possessions. In reality, she is hiding things and forgetting where they were put, although they always turn up - sometimes weeks later. She is constantly engaging in searching for things, even though she cannot always describe to the ability of my understanding what she is actually looking for She has created hiding places which have totally baffled me for even quite large items. She is convinced strangers have keys to the house, and continually claims I have friends who come in after she has gone to bed.
    My problem lies in the dilemma of denying her fantasy about stuff being stolen by strangers , and thereby provoking anger and great distress, or agreeing with her for the sake of peace and quiet, and thus reinforcing the idea that is actually happening.
    I do not doubt other care have the samesort of problem. How do they cope?
  2. Dearie Me

    Dearie Me Registered User

    Feb 2, 2012
    You have all my sympathy, but I never found an answer. My mum was exactly the same. I generally go along with her, whatever she believes, but agreeing with her that someone had been in the house, stealing her things (placemats and biscuits often!), would have distressed her even more. Arguing, not believing her, also distressed her.

    For me things changed to some extent when she had to move into care last year. The problems have now moved to other areas. I hope someone else has suggestions for you.
  3. Padraig

    Padraig Registered User

    Dec 10, 2009
    My late wife kept losing items, but I understood what was happening. My approach to most aspects of Alzheimer's was to attempt to enter her world. How would I feel if I put something away in a 'safe' place where I'd remember later, when I couldn't the item after an extensive search? Answer: I'd feel very frustrated and angry. Someone must have taken it! The culprit: the person that's always present.

    Suggest you help with the search, I did, and found many things in strange places (for safety of course). She use to smoke and I found her cigarettes in her reading glass case.
    The saddest find was to discover more than £800.00 hidden away. It meant the loss of her independence and control of her life. Throughout our lives I always believed and encouraged her total independence. We had a joint account and she had her own account at a separate bank, plus in placed company share I bought in her name. All that I had to change.
    It appears that I was lucky in learning all I did about Alzheimer's in my own way, and only came on websites after her passing. For a husband to look after his wife on their own at home right up to the end, is not for everyone. I never considered myself a carer, I was a husband, is that not what husbands do. Love honour, cherish till death parts? The reason I joined this site was in the hope of sharing some of my experiences. The more I read the less I feel I have to contribute.
  4. sistermillicent

    sistermillicent Registered User

    Jan 30, 2009
    There were some things such as the old saucepan she used to boil hankies in (yuk) which mum insisted my sister had stolen, in truth it had perished and been thrown away years previously. There was nothing we could do about those but change the subject when we could.
    We hid the valuable stuff ourselves because there was a danger that it would be hidden so well by mum that it would never be found. We also had to remove all photos as these caused distress, they became real people which was very confusing.
    I attached keys and mobile phone to myself permanently otherwise they were taken. I learned to put nothing of any value or importance in my handbag.
    I made a biscuit tin full of random necklaces and small kitchen items for mum to rummage about in.
    I also had mum sort out her old sewing box on a regular basis, this entertained her for a while and was never finished. Hint..remove needles and pins first otherwise you dont know what you will sit/tread on.
  5. CeliaThePoet

    CeliaThePoet Registered User

    Dec 7, 2013
    Buffalo, NY, USA
    Same thing

    I am having this exact issue with my mother, who lives in assisted living where people do indeed come in and out of her room for legitimate reasons. Each time something is "stolen", my eventually mother finds it herself. My grandmother, who also had undefined dementia, had done the same thing. My mother has just begun to refuse to go for a shower and such because she does not like to leave the room unattended. She has started to kick staff out of her room. (She has a key, but keeps hiding that as well.) I do not know what to do about it. She can still reason a bit (very intelligent) so I try to tell her that she has hidden it so well, only she can find it, and that if anything were to go missing, we could replace it quite easily. No answer is working at present.
  6. helenm250

    helenm250 Registered User

    Jul 22, 2015
    Hi Padraig,
    I just wanted to say that you can never know what small nugget of experience might provide insight, inspiration and sometimes great comfort to someone, somewhere along the line. I'm new to this forum but had cause to use a similar one for several years and know that my ability to support my mother as she looked after my father for seven years was much improved by the information gleaned, giggles shared and just knowing that our family was by no means alone. So please don't feel that you may not have much to contribute.....it's possible that just a few words might make the world of difference. Hx
  7. Sianey

    Sianey Registered User

    Mar 23, 2015
    Missing things

    My Mam was exactly the same. She would blame people pinching things as well, I used to look for them and always find the things:)

    Since Mam went into a care home some of the things at her house have turned up where she hid them, I can't help but smile though about some of the things. One was a urine sample pot for the Drs she sweared at the time had been stolen and I found it in her pants drawer at her house recently.

    I don't know if it was a phase but she doesn't do it much now.
  8. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    It's a very common thing, unfortunately. With my husband there were several "time zones" of this. There was the "You are taking my things and hiding them to make it look as if I am losing my mind!" zone, earlyish in his illness. Then a bit later, there was the "Someone must have a key to our house, and be breaking in and stealing my things. I know exactly where I left it - right there - and now it's gone!" zone. That stage was much easier to cope with, because I (like Padraig) tried to put myself in his shoes, and think "where would I hide it, if I was going to?" - it usually wasn't far away, and often was in a very obvious place. Maybe just stuck in a bookshelf. Didn't take long before I could find things quickly, because he tended to use the same hiding places. He was always thrilled and astonished - "How did you find it? That's just amazing! You always know how to find things!" he'd say. :) And lastly, there was the zone where stuff just disappeared and he didn't remember even having it or seeing it at all. So at that point, if something was missing, it was just a matter of searching for it when he was asleep.

    Best wishes as you try and cope with this - it's not easy.
  9. Pear trees

    Pear trees Registered User

    Jan 25, 2015
    As others have said, this is very common and not easy to solve. My mum accuses the neighbour of stealing her keys and food, but the neighbour will not speak to her or go in the house and my mother refuses all visitors except me.
    I try to distract her with a cup of tea then return all the food etc from bedroom cupboards to kitchen cupboards when she's not looking. Her keys are on a lanyard around her kneck which she wears all day to try to remind her she has not lost them.
  10. velocity

    velocity Registered User

    Feb 18, 2013
    North Notts
    Missing - claimed 'stolen'

    We've had many accusations in the past, some dreadful but now Mum will say 'have you seen' 'I wonder where' sometimes I will say 'I am afraid I haven't seen it but as you know it will turn up later'
    I haven't got time to look for it right now 'don't worry'!
    That at the moment is working.
    Mum occupies a lot of her time happily searching for things and un-ravelling her dress jewellery, often asking me (after watching Antiques Roadshow,or Flog it!) if I think it is worth anything, and how when she is gone I could possibly sell it!


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