Is it common for my mom with dementia to become a hoarder and start hiding everything?

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My mom was diagnosed with the "onset of dementia", she is quite aware in some areas, she is not completely out of it. I have now noticed her hoarding/hiding things she wants for her own. Is this common? Take for instance, she has a fork, she prefers the shape and design, so we all know THAT is her fork, no problem, no one touches. But she now hides her coffee cup. She'll wait for us to leave the kitchen then hides it behind the rest of the cups and when she's ready to use it, she waits for the kitchen to clear and then digs it out. She hides her snacks in her room, along with bathroom items, soap, shampoo. ??? No one messes with her stuff, and I try to reassure her, so I'm not sure if this is part of the dementia or if this is something new we need to address. I don't mind, if she feels better having her stuff where she knows where it is, that's great, but I don't want her living in fear of people stealing from her or something. This is so new and very confusing.....

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This could be related to her onset dementia especially if she's never done anything like this before and if she never had any tendencies to do these sorts of things. I watch her and keep copious notes about her behavior in all areas of her life. If it is dementia, no amount of reassuring her is going to work. I would recommend that you let her do it because that is what brings her comfort. Now that being said, you should definitely contact the primary care physician or the neurologist and see get a medical diagnosis. Is she taking new medication that might be causing her to be paranoid? This sounds more like paranoia than hoarding. It sounds like it's fear based which is often associated with dementia. In your question you ask about the hoarding issue, but I don't see signs of hoarding....more like hiding. If she is hoarding, let me know because that is a whole other issue entirely and requires some serious intervention. Does your mom live alone? Does she have reason to think someone is going to take her stuff? You might consider stepping back a bit and analyzing this from every possible aspect. Other than her hiding her stuff, is she exhibiting any other signs of fear or insecurity?
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Hiding things is very common in dementia. It is a good idea to make note of her favorite hiding places. Later when she can't find her glasses or is sure that someone stole her favorite pen you will be able to help her find them more quickly. I know of people who have had to purchase new glasses or dentures or hearing aids because the loved one with dementia hid them and didn't remember doing it, let alone where. So I would take this behavior as another sign of the emerging dementia. If she has had a recent change in medications, that would be worth exploring. Otherwise I'd just keep notes and discuss it at her next medical appointment.

I am sorry you are going through this. It is generally one of the annoying but not usually serious behaviors of some cases of dementia.
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Watch the drawers and under the mattress - Mom used to hide everything from half cups of milk (yuk) to dirty band-aids and worse. Also mail-important stuff. And she was extremely sneaky. We eventually found thousands in cash and bonds as well as awesome heretofore unseen family photos in shoe boxes and garage bags. Make sure you look before you throw ANYTHING out.
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More thoughts on the hiding issue. If your mother has any sentimental items, letters, jewelry that you want to have when she is gone, you might want to go ahead and remove them from her room for safekeeping. This may sound drastic, but as the dementia gets worse, remember that your mother truly doesn't realize what she is doing in these areas.
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Hi mawmawsgurl1970,

Thank you for submitting this question on our website. We appreciate your involvement in our caregiving community.

There are two great article written by AgingCare.com Editor’s that were already posted in our community. We thought this might answer your caregiving question.

LINK:
“How to Handle an Elderly Parent's Bad Behavior
Page 7: Hoarding Behavior in the Elderly”
https://www.agingcare.com/articles/deal-with-hoarding-behavior-seniors-elderly-138673.htm

and

“Hoarding Behaviors Worsen With Age”
https://www.agingcare.com/News/Scientists-Discover-That-Hoarding-Behavior-Becomes-More-Severe-With-Age-146409.htm


We hope this helps. Please let us know if you need anything else and we look forward to seeing more questions and discussions from you.


Thank you,
Karie H.
The AgingCare.com Team
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Hi mawmawsgurl1970,
Thank you for submitting this question on our website. We appreciate your involvement in our caregiving community.
There are two great article written by AgingCare.com Editor’s that were already posted in our community. We thought this might answer your caregiving question.
LINK:
“How to Handle an Elderly Parent's Bad Behavior
Page 7: Hoarding Behavior in the Elderly”
www.agingcare.com/articles/deal-with-hoarding-behavior-seniors-elderly-138673.htm
and
“Hoarding Behaviors Worsen With Age”
www.agingcare.com/News/Scientists-Discover-That-Hoarding-Behavior-Becomes-More-Severe-With-Age-146409.htm

We hope this helps. Please let us know if you need anything else and we look forward to seeing more questions and discussions from you.

Thank you,
Karie H.
The AgingCare.com Team
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In retrospect I know realize that Mom's concerns that they were going broke, her not wanting to spend money on anything, as well as her getting rid of stuff was probably part of her onset to dementia. Who knew.

I will warn you that at some point my mother did something with all her jewelry. I haven't been able to find where she sold it, hid it or anything else. Seeing as I was never the time to nose around in her stuff, I certainly didn't watch to make sure her jewelry was not where she said it was. She stopped wearing her wedding rings because she said they were tight on her fingers. They are gone. A list remains of all the things she owned, their value and who she wanted them to go to, but the objects are gone. :(

Good luck with your Mom.
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Yes---it is very common and will probably increase as the dementia/alzheimer's worsens. I had to stop replacing hearing aids because my mother hid them in tissues and then threw out the tissues. I find crackers, pieces of sandwiches, candy, etc. in her nursing room hidden in the drawers.
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