What do you do when your mother is out burying her money in the yard?

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My mother has been hiding her money in the house for a while now, but last night we seen her with a garden shovel digging a hole and hiding an envelope with money! She sat on the porch watching to be sure no one was watching, then knelt down and buried it. We watched carefully this morning, and she went back out and unburied it this morning!

Answers 1 to 10 of 11
Awe, that is really so precious - and heartbreaking at the same time. My mother always hid money in the house in different places as did my paternal grandmother - sew money into the hems of the drapes to hide it - an old Irish thing, I think. I hide money too. Gives a sort of security. It is good your mother remembered where she hid it! So, guess when she is outside, you will have to be on the watch. Take care.
Since you know that she has dementia, this is not a diagnostic question. She has her own reasons that are valid to her. I take it the question is about practical steps to deal with this behavior.

I guess I'd ensure that she never has large sums of cash on hand. Keep track of where she buries it, in case she forgets about it. If it begins to cause problems with the appearance of the lawn and that is important to you, you may have to try to redirect the behavior, but otherwise what harm is there in her digging a few holes and burying a few dollars?

I wonder if she'd ike a small box that can be locked with a key, to put her treasures in? (Hint: keep a copy of the key yourself!) I found a lockable cosmetic case when I needed to keep my husband's pills out of harm's way.

Is she just secretive about her money, or is she generally paranoid? If this is her worst paranoid behavior, it is really kind of charming and harmless.

We certainly have to deal with enough alarming and/or unsafe behaviors. We might as well relax and enjoy the sadly amusing ones.
Top Answer
I've heard that there's money in tomatoes.
I think we all have funny little quirks as we age. I can remember my grandmother used to hide money in her couch. After she passed away, someone discovered the money in her couch. We could have sold that thing and God knows if the money would have ever been found. I don't remember the amount of money she stashed but it could have been a significant amount. She also stashed money in the rafters in the basement and God knows where else.
Does your mom seem okay in other ways? If so, I think this is just something she may be obsessive/compulsive about; especially if she has had to struggle all her life. I agree with someone else who said get her a lock box with a key(s) for you and her and watch when she goes out to see where she puts it. Maybe suggest to her that she spend it on something she wants or needs. Believe me, she could have much worse habits. Bless you for taking care of her.
Like Jeanne mention, maybe you need to find out what is causing the behavior and try to redirect her. Maybe you can find a little colorful box with a small latch that don't really lock but snaps or something and that way she can keep her money in something pretty and it latches. I would be more worried why she is going outside at night for if she has dementia she could wander off one day.
Thank you all for your responses and suggestions. This is not the only paranoid behavior we have noticed. It is just concerning because she is hiding money in different places and who knows where it might be - under the washer, now out in the yard! As far as I know, she is remembering where it is enough to go back and get it, but who knows. I know she is hiding it because she thinks someone will come in at night and steal it. She thinks someone is stealing her "old cars" - she doesn't have any. For a while, someone was stealing her lawnmowers - they were not. "I had another one just like that one but it is gone!" She is always upset, and wants to call the police. We have run out of ideas on how to reassure her that noone is stealing anything. She believes that they are! I am sure that this is just another thing that we will have to deal with, I guess I was just asking out of frustration! Thanks again for the help!
Hiding valuables is a huge problem, because it means that money or valuables is likely being lost and no longer can be used to help care for that parent..
One either must figure that, hey, the rest of the family members never had that money, it belongs to the parent to do with as they please, and resign to it's being lost;
OR, have the parent declared incompetent, and remove them from handling their money.
Our Mom has been able to get people to think she was generally OK to be in charge of her affairs, BUT, if ANY of my sibs had been being helpful at all, they probly should have had her declared YEARS ago.
But she wasn't.
So when her house sold, she had about $240K in cash, to do with as she pleased. She begged me to bring her up to live with us. BEGGED. Stated she was not comfortable staying with the others. I believed her, but understood how unreasonable she was being.
She stayed with us for 6 yuears, totally disrupting our lives and destroying family connectivity. She was extremely adept at that.
I figure she buried some of her money, even though she knew first hand, that it rots pretty fast buried in the ground!
Large amounts were given to my siblings.
She told others that we stole lots of it from her, but I saw her burying it and hiding it in various places on 10 acres of overgrown property
--just unable to find it to dig it up to save it for her actual needs.
She had enough money that she could have been fairly comfortable, could have had a modest house set up for her, but at every turn prevented that.
Long story short, my siblings got generous amounts of financial aid from her, Mom managed to block getting any appropriate help because of how she handled her money, and we got shafted big-time.
She "disappeared" all the money from her house, paid no taxes, just as she had done with 3 earlier chunky inheritances--crazy like a fox, that!
YET, even though all my sibs knew she routinely hid money and valuables then claimed someone stole them, they all chose to get on her side against us, believing her accusations that we stole from and abused her [though I was the one with bruises from her aggression].
So, if you have siblings or other family members with interests in your parent, and they refuse to work together with you for your parent's best care,
ON PAPER [not just verbal-ever],
that is, if you are stuck dealing with your parent's version of "eccentricity"
[to be kind], all alone, but others are waiting in the wings who could go against you,
your choices might just be to get THEM to take her,
OR, get her into a facility,
OR, get legal help from your local Area on Aging or similar, as to how to take appropriate legal steps to protect her assets from her odd behaviors: it can make the difference between her getting the care she needs, or not.
My sibs kept saying things that were inappropriate,
or, said they agreed to things, then denied them.
They were NOT cohesively helping take care of Mom in any recognizable way.
Without their help,
and because of her bipolar and dissociative behaviors,
we were unable to do anything to protect her assets,
and unable to get her placed in any assisted living.
We FINALLY managed to motivate another sibling to come get her and her mega-hoarded piles out of here.
All we could to was keep repeating "I wish you well".
It was very painful; ALL of my siblings have now chosen to avoid contacting us, all the while saying that they aren't.
We here, are recovering from the abuses and damages she laid on us, and have no intention of going back to my family for more of the same.
We have even been threatened with eviction, because we have been unable to clean up the messes she left here, fast enough.
So yes, it can get very ugly and painful
--you can have your whole heart in taking care of your parent, do the best you can, and still get shafted by family.
Advice: do whatever you can to cover your behinds! Seek help and advice from Area agency on Aging, or whatever it is called where you are. Seek legal advice. Get any aggressive behaviors documented via 911 emergency line, since that has to get documented as a police report--no matter what!
I failed to do that each time Mom aggressed on me; I only realized it needed done, by about the 3rd time she did it...I was in shock, unable to process what she had done--one social worker answering one emergency line, actually told me it was too late to file a report, not to bother....I later learned that was wrong information, that ALL aggressive episodes should have been reported to 911 for a police report, immediately. The hard part was, if the person is only doing it when you cannot get to a working phone, and you cannot dial a phone while the person is attacking, you STILL can call to report it after-the-fact as soon as you possibly can. Just do it. IT creates a paper tail. IF you can get documentation from the Doc, DO IT.
Paper trails.
If you are caring for your parent, you NEED them, no matter how "sweet" a person may be or have been, during their good times.
Luvsmom, I am sorry that your are dealing with the other paranoia episodes, too. It is quite common in dementia, but I know that isn't particularly comforting. You are not going to be able to reason her out of her beliefs, sad to say. "You had another lawnmower just like this and it is gone? Hmm ... how many did you have altogether? I'll report it to the Missing Home Appliances Hotline, so they can keep an eye out for it." After calling weather number, "Good news and bad news, Mom. They say they have apprehended the head of the lawnmover theft ring, so that shouldn't be a problem anymore. The bad news is that all the stolen lawnmowers have been sent to South America for parts, so we won't be getting it back. Good thing he didn't get them all, huh? We'll all be careful to see that the shed is locked from now on."

These creative little stories are intended to comfort and sooth the person with dementia, and help her feel safe.

(Someone ought to get a grant to hold creative fiction writing seminars for caregivers of persons with dementia. I'd sign up.)

As for the money, she never has large sums of cash, right? And it sounds like you keep an eye on her when she is out of the house. Wandering is very common in some types of dementia, but infrequent in other kinds.

(The only thing that kept our sherrif's office from being bombarded with calls when my husband was in his paranoia phase was the fact he couldn't dial a phone correctly.)

Be sure that her dementia doctor is aware of this behavior.

And try to keep your sense of humour!
Luvsmom, Chimonger & Jeanne both mention a few people to contact and that sounds like great ideas dealing with the money issue and for advice as well.

Chimonger, sorry you had to go through such an odeal and some of the family members were against you. It seems all they want was the money and for some reason the person that is ill don't see them that way. We went through similar issues with the mnl. she went through her IRA retirement 40G's withing 3years for a so called family member supposedly was helping us out with her. She helped alright! Couldn't prove it either for the mnl to this day thinks the world of her and she can do no wrong. However, she is not welcome over our house!
lildeb--my Mom convinced my sibs that I stole her blind....all the while gifting them with property and money, helping htem out of their troubles--the boys most. Yet she swears she is exceptionally even-handed in her gifting.
HA!
They all pretty much stopped communicating with me, because Mom would call them and fill their ears with all kinds of tripe she dreamed up for 6 years.
She is so good at her theatrical delivery of her stories, they fall for it.
The last straws were when I realized they were only making verbal statements [plausible denialbility--they can always deny they said nasty or damaging things], and play into her statements, so they all escalate.
Once I recognied the mind games they were playing, it became clear that this sort of behaviors had been going on for a lifetime.
At that point, I realized the only way to stop that crazy ride, was to stop suckering for their "hooks" to talk more with them, and indeed, to just stop talking with them unless it was unavoidable...they were the ones who blocked me out first...I let them, and just took it up a notch to not answering useless, fishing questions, and keeping any responses to needed information, to the fewest possible words.
Not one of them has bothered to contact me otherwise, since then.
They did try to get me to call Mom, but since she has my number in her cell phone, I figured, that if she wanted to call me, she can try.
But none of them wants to leave a message on a recorder, or write things down [cannot deny they said things then].
Gosh--what a relief!
But it probly is not over yet. those sorts are not happy when someone limits their games, and will keep trying.
My best ploy is to do whatever I can to help heal my wounds and get as stable as possible, to best be able to keep on an even keel when they try something again.
Healing our own selves, is the best thing we can do, and choose a better healthier life.

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