My mother is hiding things

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by UpToMe, Jun 1, 2019.

  1. UpToMe

    UpToMe Registered User

    Oct 10, 2017
    23
    #1 UpToMe, Jun 1, 2019
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 1, 2019
    My mother is 87 in September. My father died nearly two years ago.
    Ever since my brother and I have visited her every week, I spend 10 hours with her on Tuesdays and my brother 5 hours on a Friday night after work. We have recently started using a care provider to visit her in between out visits for a couple of hours a day but that isn't really working (due to the carers needed to be led by the nose and told what to do!) Example I asked the carers to stay with her whilst she ate he dinner at lunchtime. They visited 10-12 and asked if she would like them to make her something to eat. Obviously at 11.30am it wasn't lunchtime so she refused.

    Hiding things:
    It all started in winter 2017 when Mum started "losing" hot water bottles. My brother was better at finding them than me (I just buy another new one) , inside the spin dryer, behind the guest wardrobe on the guest bed wardrobe etc etc. Anyway there are at least 14 hot water bottles somewhere in the house now.

    However in December her Will went missing. This is was very serious, as I was concerned whether she would pass for writing and signing a new one. Anyhow, on the very day we were due to go to the solicitors to sign the new will, it turned up and was on the coffee table. I now have it. I also have the original of the new Will too. Point being, because fo the effort involved, I virtually tore the house apart spending 5 hours looking for the "missing" Will.

    Now the hiding things has ramped up to a whole new level. She is locking the doors and hiding the keys ie locking herself in. Worse, she is telling the carer that he son has locked her in!
    Last Saturday after our holiday I called her and went straight to her to let her out, and bought two sets of keys for her. Within a week both of these have "vanished". I live 90 miles away and my brother the same.
    It didn't stop her neighbour dictating what I should be doing "she's your Mum not mine".

    Anyway, I had already bought an external digital keybox. Now I will fit thumbturn cylinder to the back door and a Yale roller bolt lock to the front door, so both can be opened from inside without a key.

    Another minor issue is, her two address books have going missing. Or as she claims "someone has taken them" It's never her. I do wonder if she has a secret hiding place (like loose floor boards or something that her and Dad used to hide their valuables. Perhaps full of paper tenners!

    I suppose it is my fault for not thinking ahead, but she has definitely got much worse since the carers visits started four weeks ago.
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,102
    Kent
    Could it be your mother is not putting these things in safe places @UpToMe ?

    I used to spend hours looking for my husband`s keys and wallet because he put them in different places every day when he returned from his walks.

    Not that the reason makes any difference, especially when you live so far away.

    Another reason may be the new situation of having carers in. Your mother may feel she has to keep her belongings secure and safe from them. There is often a bit of paranoia in dementia so this may be true here.
     
  3. UpToMe

    UpToMe Registered User

    Oct 10, 2017
    23
    Yes I think paranoia is a part in this,. She said we were taking the hot water bottles away as she said we might be worried she would scald herself. My reply, if we thought that we would take the kettle away!

    I think it is the carers making her worse. I did think that this might happen.
    problem is everyone with dementia is different.
     
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,102
    Kent
    My mother used to leave her keys in a dish on the hall table and even then leave her front and back doors not only unlocked but open, she was so frightened of being locked in.
     
  5. Sarahdun

    Sarahdun Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    341
    When this happened with my husband I coped (eventually) in various ways. I created a locked space in the house (at first a cupboard eventually a room) where I kept all the things I did not want him to destroy or lose). I simplified the rooms he lived in by getting rid of most of the stuff and organising the little that was left. Eventually I took over control of his wallet and keys when he no longer knew what they were. Obviously things will be different if your mum is living alone - for my MIL I also installed a LockSafe on the outside of the house with a spare key in it that she could not access.
     
  6. Elle3

    Elle3 Registered User

    Jun 30, 2016
    603
    My dad did this all the time, hiding things, especially keys and his wallet/money. It was a bit of a viscous circle, he would hide things to stop ‘people’ stealing things/keep them safe, but forget where he had put them, so would think they had been stolen. Probably having carers in for your mum is the reason she could be doing this, she’s maybe trying to stop things from going missing not knowing she is really the cause.

    For my dad it was not recognising his own reflection in the mirror or in a window and thinking it was someone he didn’t know in his house. I can’t remember a day when I didn’t have to play hide and seek and look for missing items, which I rarely won. But you could guarantee a couple of days later the missing item would reappear with dad none the wiser it was ever missing. It did get very frustrating, but I started to learn not to get too stressed about it as it wasn’t worth it.

    When my dad went into a Care home and I cleared his house, I found 32 umbrellas hidden in various places around his home and I lost count of the number of disposable razors I found, hidden under carpets, behind cupboards etc. I also found the brand new shoes I had bought him, 6 months earlier, which had gone missing within a day and I’d spent many hours over the months searching for them, but obviously not in the right place!
     
  7. Sarasa

    Sarasa Registered User

    Apr 13, 2018
    402
    My mum did this, and as @Elle3 says one of the reasons was she thought people were stealing things so she needed to keep them safe. They mostly turned up, but I still haven't found her purse which I'm sure is there somewhere. The most puzzling thing was a pack of nine loo rolls that disappeared within minutes of the supermarket delivery.
    It might be the carers that are triggering this or it might have happened anyway. Might be worth talking to the neighbour,your mum is probably getting into muddles and having to be sorted out. Mine has just gone into a home, but talking to local shopkeepers who saw her regularly people often had to help her out. She thought she was managing well of course.
     
  8. Rob_E

    Rob_E Registered User

    Feb 1, 2015
    162
    Male
    Liverpool
    It's teaspoons at the moment that mum likes to hide, usually in her pockets or handbag, though I have found them in upstairs drawers and tissue boxes! Hunting teaspoons has become a daily thing now, yes it's frustrating. Not sure why she does this though she did have a thing when we were all younger about us using a clean teaspoon for very drink and not washing them, she did once hide most of them to make us wash them so it may be connected with that. The other thing is shoes and clothing 'because the cats walk off with them' which they don't off course!

    Her mother also had dementia and would hide the keys. She used to wander and I think she was trying to make sure she could get out, mostly to get away from my grandad, I think he understandably got very frustrated with it all and their relationship was difficult in the last few years.
     
  9. RosettaT

    RosettaT Registered User

    Sep 9, 2018
    194
    Female
    Mid Lincs
    I'm not sure there is fool proof way to advert this. Mum used to make me laugh often, it didn't matter what we tried she would thwart it in one way or another. I used to say she should have been a gadget trier for MI6. If it could be broken, lost, hidden, miss used or somehow destroyed she would be your girl!
    I bought a safe to keep her cash, cashcards and cheque book in when she got carers, (I only let her have £50 in her purse maximum) not because I distrusted them, but to protect them from her losing/ hiding them. One day I went and she told me someone had knocked at door offering to cut her hedge she agreed the price and paid, 10mins later they again knocked on the door and said it would be 3times the price. She had invited them in and because she couldn't open the safe she told them to take it:eek: Fortunately it was bolted to the wall. The one time something I had done actually worked to our advantage.
     
  10. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,872
    Female
    South coast
    My mum used to hide things as well. She didnt have carers as she wouldnt let them in, but she was convinced that there was another lady who lived in her home with her and also that there was a school above her and the children used to come in and move things around (in reality she lived by herself in a bungalow)

    Like Elle3, it became a vicious cycle - she didnt recognise her clothes and other things as hers, so thought there another lady living there. She then put away her things safely so the other lady wouldnt take them and also so that the children wouldnt move them - then forgot that she had done it and became convinced that the other lady and children had done it.......
     
  11. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    331
    Hi @UpToMe I've done something along the lines as Sarahdun has as my dad did the same things as your mum. We had ordered particular bank cards and replaced passports a few times before we realised that it's him who had the issue, not the bank for not sending the pin number, HMPS, etc. My dad's dementia has declined quite a way since then and we've got most of his personal items put aside as he doesn't miss or use them now.

    In addition to possibly be hiding things or putting them in safe places, another reason could be that they put things in what we see as a weird or wrongly placed whereas it may look right or more appropriate to them.

    My dad is quite mischievous with his 'placing' of things, there has been times we've searched the whole house for something only to sit back in exhaustion only to see the very same things gleaning from somewhere we wouldn't expect him to be able to get to!
     
  12. Kimmysue

    Kimmysue New member

    May 30, 2019
    3
    My mom doesnt like clutter to be seen, so things that I need laying out, she will just stuff anywhere out of sight. So even thought the house looks neat and tidy, if you open a drawer or cabinet door, they are stuffed full of junk. It is nearly impossible to find them a clean pair of socks or anything else you need through all the junk.
     
  13. Sirena

    Sirena Registered User

    Feb 27, 2018
    1,414
    Female
    My mother repeatedly lost her keys, it was a real theme with her. Two neighbours had spare sets which they would use to let her in, they never handed over the keys for obvious reasons. Even when she had daily carers she would still end up needing the neighbours' help, and eventually they (understandably) got fed up with it. I lived 2 and a half hours away, they were there all the time and were regularly confronted with her deterioration.

    My mother is now in a care home and we never found some disappearing items - some of her jewelry, family photos, clothing. She did hide things in unlikely places but she also got rid of them. She had a phase of taking her clothes to the recycling bank and leaving herself with very little to wear (I think it was because she couldn't remember how to use the washing machine so when they were dirty, she got rid). So if some of your mother's stuff never turns up it could have left the house.
     
  14. myss

    myss Registered User

    Jan 14, 2018
    331
    Another place to look is - unfortunately - the dustbin. I realised this after one of those 'top to bottom' searches for something.... then had an epiphany after sitting back exhausted that it could be there. It was.
     
  15. Champers

    Champers Registered User

    Jan 3, 2019
    94
    Every few weeks I get a hysterical phone call from mother because she, “hasn’t got any cash and how will she pay her bills?!” I have an LPA and everything is paid for directly but my husband seems to think that she ought to have some, just for her peace of mind. Unfortunately, whenever I get her some, she always puts the money ‘somewhere safe’ despite me telling her it’s probably safe enough just in her purse in her handbag! So far I’ve found it hidden inside books, shoes in her wardrobe, under her bed - all the usual places that any halfwit burglar would know where to look. When I produce it from these hidey holes, she looks gobsmacked and tells me that someone else must have put it there. I’m coming to the conclusion that having cash in the house causes more stress to everyone, to stop providing it and just deflect the panicking calls.
     
  16. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    1,068
    Worth trying 'fake' money, which is available via ebay, amazon etc. It can give the person a sense of security knowing that they have cash, so reduces stress, but avoids real money being lost/stolen.
     
  17. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,872
    Female
    South coast
    You could always give her some fake money that children use as play money (some is quite realistic) you can buy on ebay/Amazon
     
  18. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    9,872
    Female
    South coast
  19. Champers

    Champers Registered User

    Jan 3, 2019
    94
    That’s a very good idea. I hadn’t thought of that. You’re probably right - it’s just the feeling of security of having money that mum needs. Thank you both!
     
  20. Carysewilliams

    Carysewilliams New member

    Jun 9, 2019
    1
    How did you manage to get around the post issue? Trying to help my Nan make sure she gets to her doctors appointments but she never seems to have any letters so we can’t see when they are! Did you get them delivered to you or something else?
     

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