• Expert Q&A: Rare dementias - Tues 3 March, 3-4pm

    Our next expert Q&A will be on the topic of rare dementias. It will be hosted by Nikki and Seb from Rare Dementia Support. If you have any questions about rare dementias, they will be here to answer them on Tuesday 3 March between 3-4pm.

    You can either post your question >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.

Mother with Dementia stock piling paracetamol

sleepless

Registered User
Feb 19, 2010
3,223
The Sweet North
Squirreling things away in drawers is a common symptom of dementia, usually harmless, if annoying, (as in the case of tissues, biscuits etc) but I think you need to take this seriously, especially as you have no way of knowing how many she may be buying herself.
She may, or may not be taking paracetamol covertly. She may, or may not remember if she has bought/taken any. In this situation, when it's not possible to know exactly what's happening, someone needs to take the lead and look out for her safety.
It's possible she senses that something is not quite right, and thinks that paracetamol will make her better. Or it could be a random choice she has fixated on for squirreling away.
Makes the tissue issue look easy.....
 

Sue J

Registered User
Dec 9, 2009
8,035
Squirreling things away in drawers is a common symptom of dementia, usually harmless, if annoying, (as in the case of tissues, biscuits etc) but I think you need to take this seriously, especially as you have no way of knowing how many she may be buying herself.
She may, or may not be taking paracetamol covertly. She may, or may not remember if she has bought/taken any. In this situation, when it's not possible to know exactly what's happening, someone needs to take the lead and look out for her safety.
It's possible she senses that something is not quite right, and thinks that paracetamol will make her better. Or it could be a random choice she has fixated on for squirreling away.
Makes the tissue issue look easy.....
I totally agree, but where I live our social care is deplorable, dementia care seemingly non existent and trying to get anyone to understand let alone help, to say has been/is a nightmare, is an understatement. I hope things are better where you live imap.
 

arielsmelody

Registered User
Jul 16, 2015
516
Maybe you need to be a bit sneaky to work out what's going on. Get a Sharpie and mark all the blister packs of paracetemol in the medicine box so you know whether she's getting new supplies. Try buying a different brand so she might not recognise the box, or stick something on the pack to cover up the name.
 

iMad

Registered User
Aug 29, 2016
11
Maybe you need to be a bit sneaky to work out what's going on. Get a Sharpie and mark all the blister packs of paracetemol in the medicine box so you know whether she's getting new supplies. Try buying a different brand so she might not recognise the box, or stick something on the pack to cover up the name.
yes I like this idea thank you. We could put them in another or plain box so she won't know what they are. The rest of us are well enough to know and understand what they are and my dad takes so many medications that he is an expert on what pills are what.
 

cragmaid

Registered User
Oct 18, 2010
7,942
North East England
I would still recommend buying a lockable cash box or similar and keeping the bulk of her medication out of sight. Her daily medication could then be sorted into the DIY weekly boxes sold by the pound shops etc and administered by your Dad.
 

iMad

Registered User
Aug 29, 2016
11
I would still recommend buying a lockable cash box or similar and keeping the bulk of her medication out of sight. Her daily medication could then be sorted into the DIY weekly boxes sold by the pound shops etc and administered by your Dad.
Yes, I do still like this option. I just wonder if this might antagonise my mum as she believes she is less affected by dementia than she really is. Her daily pills come in a sealed dosage box already so we can see if it has been tampered with and so far it hasn't so all it would really be for is the painkillers. If she wasn't so hostile about us trying to help her then it would probably be fine.
 

Sue J

Registered User
Dec 9, 2009
8,035
Yes, I do still like this option. I just wonder if this might antagonise my mum as she believes she is less affected by dementia than she really is. Her daily pills come in a sealed dosage box already so we can see if it has been tampered with and so far it hasn't so all it would really be for is the painkillers. If she wasn't so hostile about us trying to help her then it would probably be fine.
That is exactly like my friend and when the painkillers went in the sealed dosage box it made it much easier, but everyone is different as is their situation. I wonder if it would help if the Dr spoke to her about it as sometimes it can be accepted more readily than from family.
 

mymemories

Registered User
Apr 23, 2016
64
Hi iMad, I had a similar problem with my Mum. She was taking Dihydrocodeine in the blister packs (on prescription of course) I discovered that there was a problem (pre dementia diagnosis) as she kept running out and I found that she was taking up to 18 in a day because she would forget that she had already had taken them.

Whilst she was staying with me recuperating (from major surgery) I got my doctors to prescribe them so they could be put into a dossette box. This worked well when she was staying with me but it failed when she went home because she would forget what day it was, whether it was morn/lunch/tea/evening and so she would just start to take them from another day. When I look back I don't think she understood the abbreviations.

I took her to the doctors because I knew she was in pain, but knew that we couldn't carry on otherwise she would make herself very ill. The doctors started her on some morphine patches. Initially they kept the dose low whilst they weaned her off the tablets because she couldn't just stop taking the Dihydrocodeine all at once.

The GP prescribed her on a weekly patch, but this wasn't strong enough and so they increased the dose but she had to have the 4 day patches instead. However, in the time it took to find the right dose, my Mum went to the local shop to purchase Paracetamol (she had lots of boxes hidden throughout her home) she was taking them in addition to having the patches. I think it was hard for her to understand that a 'plaster' could help with the pain as in her head only tablets could and I think that was why she went out to buy them in the first place.

Eventually, we found the right dose to control her pain, but what I did was to go out and I bought a box that had a combination lock as I didn't want there to be a key around the house as I knew she would try to find the key and if she did I knew she would have opened it.

The box I purchased was actually a box where you can hang many sets of keys. It was able to be hung on the wall and was small enough not to be obtrusive.
I decided to tell her that the doctor said all her medication had to be stored in a box because her patches were much stronger than her tablets and by law they had to be locked away out of sight (she would never have dreamt of breaking the law, plus it made the doctor to be the baddy if there was an issue). The box has worked a treat. I have one for my home too.

I was wondering if maybe your Dad could get one for his medication and that way it wouldn't single your Mum out. The box I purchased from Wilkinsons was about £20 and it had a 3 number combination lock the only thing was I couldn't have the dossette box as it wouldn't fit in the locked box so all Mum's medication was supplied in the original blister packs. Another reason I got a combination lock was that if she wanted me to open it I could pretend I had forgotten the combination. Do you think your Mum is buying the Paracetamol because she is in pain or because she just wants something to 'hide'?

I hope you manage to get something sorted.
 

Dayperson

Registered User
Feb 18, 2015
277
Shropshire
Definitely agree with the suggestions above. I keep mums pills on the top shelf of the cupboard and i know she is unlikely to get them even as she has arthritis. Any extras are kept in my bedroom which is locked and i keep the key on me at all time.

I hope you manage to find a solution, maybe you should keep them in your bedroom, then the most she can buy is 2 packets at a time. Maybe you could talk to the shops your mum buys them from and warn them about her dementia and memory and ask they could refuse to sell her any?
 
Last edited: