My Mother constantly steals things around the house, then hoards them in different hiding places in her room.

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My Mother, 75 w/Dementia, constantly steals items around the house, from food, to paper towels, to toilet paper, to sweet n low sugar packets, to towels, to even my Dad's stuff, Or even her own stuff. Then she would hoard the items, stash them in bags, boxes, and in between clothes. Thankful she hasn't stole money. Then she forgets where she stashed them. And my Brother(POA) has to re-buy items, like socks, underwear, shampoo, washcloths, and even toilet paper. We never confronted her about it, or asked her to stop. We just all stay in peace, and try to work around it. It can be very frustrating when I, the caregiver has to put away things, like toilet paper, food, even sweet n low packets. Then she accuses family members of stealing items, from her and my Dad. We all understand her, but is this part of the Dementia? Does she have a type of cleptomania? Or is she just a thief? And how do I, as a caregiver work around this, without getting frustrated, without being against her, or confronting her. Thank you, for your suggestions.


Hoarding is very typical - I don;t know why but that's how I first discovered my dad was having problems altho he was buying stuff. Before I took his car away he would go to good will or salvation army and buy 2 or 3 shirts a day. Our house is overloaded with 1,000's of shirts. He also brings home tons of equal packets from McD's tho he has bucketsful at home already - doesn't use it at home. I thought I heard it was something about they realize they're losing things and trying to hang on to what they think theyre losing.
My father "stole" stuff also. We never knew what we were going to find where and had some pretty good laughs about it. He didn't speak, we didn't try to stop him, and we just let it go. We had to hide the trash can or he would dispose of items there too. He also carried around a spiral notebook to take notes. I still have those notes after all these years. None of them made sense but just to see his handwriting makes me smile. I have no idea why he did these things, but I can't imagine there was any malice intended. All the years dad had AD he pretty much kept his personality. He was always quiet and sweet and that's how he remained until the day he died.
daddydaycare, yes, the behavior you describe is very typical of certain kinds of dementia. To call it "stealing" is to imply there is a deliberate attempt to deprive someone else of their property. I really don't think that is what is going on here.

Mom is not a thief. She is not a kleptomaniac. She is simply a woman with dementia, through no fault of her own.

I know you have worked with mentally ill persons in the past, but it that did not include dementia I think you would benefit a lot from learning about the disorder your mother has.
My mom doesn't steal things, however, hides them. She is in a memory care facility. She shares a room with another woman. My mom has stated several times how she doesn't have any of "her things." It is true. Due to a small space for two people my mom has her dresser, clothes and a few items on her wall with some of her angels and little stuffed animals on her dresser. That is it. It is very sad but she is on Medicaid and can't afford a private room. She stashes "her" things in places she thinks no one can find them. I am privy to her hiding spots as are my sibs. When something goes missing, we all know where to look. If it isn't there, well, she must have accidentally thrown it away.

I don't know how your mother's room is, if she has all her belongings or not. It could also be that she was born around the depression time and was taught how to keep things in case a time should come and she can't get it anymore. My mom is 75 with Alz. Blessings
its a game around here. mom hides everything from herself. sometimes i think for a minute or two and go right to the hiding spot. being able to reason like a late stage dementia patient is not necessarily a good thing but its helpful at times. lol
Dear Daddydaycare,
What jeannegibbs said is right on. My Mom did the same things. She would buy things over and over when she already had a drawerful of them,[be it food, toiletries, etc.... and put things in the weirdest places and then tell me that I either hid them from her or that I took them, or somebody else stole them. I knew it was the dementia and it wasn't her fault; sometimes it was so funny I that I just had to walk away. Sometimes thats the best thing to do , is just walk to another room, turn on radio, TV, whatever. Just change the subject/situation. When she passed and I had the job of organizing, cleaning, etc....I found so many of the things that she said that " I took" or "I hid" from her. And they were so many of the same things and they were all over the place, not in one place. Very disorganized, no wonder she couldn't find them. She would forget where she put her money and when I was clearing out one of her drawers, I found an envelope full of hundreds of dollars! And another drawer was full of jewelry! So after while, I just let her hide things and let it go. It appeassed her and sort of I guess, made her happy to do it. Anything at that point to make her happy, made me happy. So I just let it go and let her hide things and buy them again if she or I couldn't find whatever she was looking for. Trying to reason with her will do no good cause in her mind, she is right no matter what you say or how much proof u have that she is wrong. Besides, it may hurt her feelings and thats the last thing u want to do is hurt Mom.
If she asks, or accuses, just take it with a grain of salt, change the subject [which should be easy cause you can re-direct her mind easily-like my Mom] and then move on to another subject, then another subject. ***like, " hey lets look for something else*** or something like that. Or, ***hey, lets look at this [whatever it may be] and then talk about that "thing" or whatever. Hope this helps you!
A delicate form of obsession within the dementia. So sad. I saw this when my Mother started being confused. She has huge amounts of costume and fine jewelry, all mixed up.
About seven years ago, still in her marital home and married, she said on one of my monthly visits that she could not find mates to her earrings. I sorted through everything and paired them up--over 500 pairs. On my next visit, carpet cleaners had come and moved everything out of the bedroom to clean and she accused them of stealing her jewelry. She had completely undone the organizing of her jewelry. I never tried again until she was no longer obsessed, then no longer interested, then totally unaware that she had any jewelry. It progresses. It won't last forever. Don't fight it. Take care.

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