oldcodger2 Asked March 2012

Why do older ones always think that if they misplace something - that someone STOLE IT!

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My MIL is getting much worse about misplacing things. Most of the time she finds them. But, if she misplaces something - she accuses me of 'taking it.' Why would I 'take' her TENS unit or her pill bottle or whatever?

I bought her a piggy bank a few years ago - it is a giant yellow chicken. Just something 'funny' and cheerful for her - since she used to raise chickens. She had planned a trip to see her sister in AZ a few years ago and we started putting her change in the chicken so she'd have some spending money for souvenirs in AZ. Well - that chicken has long ago been emptied - I cashed the change in (about $100) and she took it with her to AZ several years ago.

Yesterday, she got that chicken down and opened it and found 16 cents. She thinks someone STOLE her money! I told her we cashed that in years ago when she went to AZ. She said 'I would remember THAT!' i told her 'not necessarily - it was a long time ago.'

Her memory is failing fast and she is in denial! IF SHE DOESN'T REMEMBER IT, IT DIDN'T HAPPEN!! This is so frustrating. Because she blames me for anything that is missing.

Is there any way to cope with this insanity?

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lars37 Jan 2017
My wife has hallucinations that are real to her. They get blamed constantly for intending to steal her things. I've taken to telling her that if they take them, I'll buy her new things. Seems to work most of the time. Otherwise she'll pick up a variety of "her things" and take them to the bedroom with her when we go to bed.
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Debra54 Jan 2017
I am 63 and have bipolar, adhd, and anxiety disorder. I have been misplacing things especially since 7th grade. I just deal with it, spending lots of time looking for things.My dorm room and housewas always very cluttered, not a dirty house, but stuff everywhere, I got worse after my house burned. Also I was always told as a child to not throw away anything by my grandmother who went through the Great Depression, and by my parents who were mildly poor. we made our own clothes and canned our own food. Plus the ADHD and bipolar cause a person not to think too straight. It is my belief that the ADHD causes me to look at a whole room and not to know where to start organizing or cleaning. Then stuff piles up over the years and it gets overwhelming. I began getting really bad when I had a young man to move in part time. He cleaned my kitchen and living room, maintained my vehicle, kept my acre of yard in tip top shape. He even cooked when I was not feeling well. Things were sort of OK for several years. He alternated among staying with various friends and relatives because he is alcoholic and could not maintain a home. I also could, when I felt good, mow, and do most of the above. But the bipolar and anxiety would get me down for weeks at a time, then I would be OK for a while. I was accused of "using" him by a therapist. Fast Forward. He became involved with drugs. I began missing small items. Like a $20 from my purse, a pocket knife, forks from the kitchen, etc. I would raise heck about these things and mysteriously, some would reappear. I was in therapy and advised to remove him from my home and life. I was very attached to him, Almost addicted and it was hard to do. I would run him away, only to have something break--the roof leak, the car break down, me getting extremely lonely--so I would get him back. Really fast forward. If I scolded him for taking things, he began to threaten me. He beat me up one day. It was becoming a horrible cycle. The more I was upst, the more I forgot. He became involved with a girl on crack. I began missing odd things, like a barrette, my nice clothing, etc. I put my valuables in a safety security box. Can't wear my jewelry now--pretty stupid, unlessI I go to the bank to get it out. Fast fast fast forward---The other day I missed my Christmas cards. I had asked him to leave after he hit me and threatened me again. I called and asked him if he had seen my cards. Other small things were missing. I began hiding things I really liked. i began to miss things when I was in town shopping. I was afraid to visit my friends and Mom and dad who are in their 80's and ill. I began to stay home more and more, even afraid to go to church. I missed this "friend"s company. Had no help at all and no money to pay any one to help. No family close, except Mom and Dad. So, now I am in the house afraid to go out. I am hiding things, forgetting where they are, finding them again and rehiding. Writing it all down and losing where I write it down. This guy and his friends, all on drugs, are what I call gas-lighting me. Some of the stuff, I find, some I don't. Last year he stole my credit card before Christmas and ran up the bill. The investigator and the police would not do a thing. He came to my good friend's house causing a huge disturbance demanding money. We called the police, one of whom pointed a gun at his head and when he did not do as they said. He was put in jail for one day. He was let out, knocked my air conditioner out of my window, got some food from the fridge, and threw eggs all over the inside. Then he got pancreatitis and I looked after him 4 days the hospital. Well, now he is gone and I can't afford to change the locks, believe that he and his friends can get in while I'm away, and am barricading the door. I tore off the long molding around the door, jammed it sideways, put tons of junk on my inside door and put bags of old clothes under a tarp in front of the door. I am getting extremely paranoid. I have to go for a thyroid test 20 miles away for 2 days. My thyroid is enlarged with a nodule and making me very tired. This is making me worse. I just thought I would write this so that I could help people understand the other side of the story. I do hide stuff and lose it. But some stuff is being stolen. My grandmother had some things stolen and began thinking things were stolen when they were not. This is so insidious, you have no idea what it is like to be alone. mBut I do not accuse anyone else of stealing--just his crazy bunch of addicted persons whom I do feel sorry for. They have stolen from other people. My story may be extreme, and sorry for it being so long.
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igloo572 Jun 2012
Shebe - oh your poor DH. My mom, who has Lewy Body Dementia, was convinced when she still was living in her home that the mailman was stealing as was the garbage collectors and her grandson. It's the familiar ones who get the blame and is such a part of dementia. Your fortunate that the postmistress gets what's going on so DH doesn't have fall out that affects his work history. My mom would actually call the police and want whomever arrested towards the last few months she in IL. We had to have a meeting with the community relations officer on it & I as DPOA had to sign off on a no response to be done on her phone calls to the police. Sadly she moved into a NH soon after and no phone.
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It's not just caregivers who get accused. My husband's a rural mail carrier in a retirement community, and the postmistress got pretty familiar with certain elders who, every month after picking up their check, would call and accuse the carrier of stealing it. They instituted a system of signing for the checks, but direct deposits have cut through that problem. It's amazing how humans are quick to try to shift the blame to others; it's even been shown that gorillas will do the same thing (those who have been taught sign language so we know what they're trying to say). What also amazes me is how, even though she knows she has Alzheimer's and a real memory deficit, my mom will claim things that absolutely depend on her memory. This morning when I heard her running water, I rushed in to remind her not to wash her hair as she just had a perm yesterday, and it would ruin it. "I did?" was her first reaction and she felt her hair, clearly admitting that she didn't remember getting it. Her next words were more ironic: "That's OK, I NEVER wash my hair." I sure hope that isn't true!
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It's not just caregivers who get accused. My husband's a rural mail carrier in a retirement community, and the postmistress got pretty familiar with certain elders who, every month after picking up their check, would call and accuse the carrier of stealing it. They instituted a system of signing for the checks, but direct deposits have cut through that problem. It's amazing how humans are quick to try to shift the blame to others; it's even been shown that gorillas will do the same thing (those who have been taught sign language so we know what they're trying to say). What also amazes me is how, even though she knows she has Alzheimer's and a real memory deficit, my mom will claim things that absolutely depend on her memory. This morning when I heard her running water, I rushed in to remind her not to wash her hair as she just had a perm yesterday, and it would ruin it. "I did?" was her first reaction and she felt her hair, clearly admitting that she didn't remember getting it. Her next words were more ironic: "That's OK, I NEVER wash my hair." I sure hope that isn't true!
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oldcodger2 Mar 2012
nolansk - Yea right. Easier said by someone who doesn't have to deal with it 24/7.

I don't think we are alone in this, sadly :0( Took over mom's meds 2 years ago. She swore she was taking them - wouldn't even use a pill box! One month 1/2 of meds were left at the end of month, the next month 2/3 rds were left over. Something had to be done. Yes, I order, pick up and dispense her meds. She still willingly takes them - although once in a while she will get into a funk and 'just forget' - and I do think she does this on purpose and I know some will say they don't do this - but, yes they can do this - just to prove something. But, for the most part, meds are not a problem for now.

But her personality has changed and she isn't always 'nice' and no one else sees the fits or hears the nasty remarks but us - especially me. I am the one who throws her stuff away or 'takes' things. She is the perfect angel if someone calls or visits or when visiting the doctor. Strange she can pull it together for them.

She does have good days - but they are fewer these days. I read that this kind of 'dementia' is what lands so many older ones in NH's. I keep hoping I can go on until the 'end' - but I am not sure. I have been experiencing strange chest pains and SHOULD get them checked out - but I have a $1000 deductible on my health insurance :0( But, one of these days......... I'll have to go - I know that. But, I really think it is stress.

And, yes, those who say these things are not living the REALITY TV SHOW that we are living every single day. Platitudes really are not helpful - but they are offered instead of 'real help' - it's easier.
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nolansk Mar 2012
Oh I do so feel for you. Your's is the first post I've found that deals with exactly the same issue I'm in right now too. Two weeks ago she took all the car keys in the house and put them in my bottom dresser drawer and accused me of stealing them. I was frantic because both sets of keys to my parents' van and one set of my car keys were gone. Fortunately, I had a set to my car stashed in my pocketbook. It is so difficult not to react to all the personal attacks, having my personal belongings rifled through, and constantly being picked on.

My Mom takes a drug called Buspar, and that helps, but not totally. Right now she is throwing a fit because (under Doctor's orders) I removed all her medications from her reach. She had been claiming that she was taking them properly (she was not) and got really bad. I am the primary caregiver for both my parents, so I took all of them and dispense them just as a skilled caregiver would do if she was in a nursing home. I have found that her behavior has improved since I took over her medications. I would advise that if you have not already done so, remove her medications from her control and dispense them as the Doctor ordered.

I know it is so hard. I've been in tears more times than can count. The best advice I can give you is what my Psychologist told me to do. WALK AWAY for a few minutes. Go to your room, shut the door. Wait a few and then re-approach. You may find that she's forgotten what was going on and you can continue to cope with the next issue. I haven't been able to do this one yet either, but everyone tells me to let it roll off like water from a ducks back. Yea right. Easier said by someone who doesn't have to deal with it 24/7. I feel for you, and am right there with you. You are not alone.
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oldcodger2 Mar 2012
I think she does 'hide' things - even money sometimes. Has done that for a long time. j

eannebiggs - I appreciate your post. It isn't easy to 'NOT' react normally to this very ABNORMAL way of thinking and doing things. Now that we think of it, we feel that she may have had small, unrecognizable strokes for a while now. She had a small 'recognizable' one about six weeks ago and things have really gone South since then. Jeckyll and Hyde.

She is impossible to reason with and gets upset very easily. I think she knows her thinking isn't quite right - sometimes - but that just makes her afraid and angrier. Guess it's time for another call to her doctor. Thanks for the insight.
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jeannegibbs Mar 2012
First of all, it helps to recognize that this is insanity, or rather that it is a cognitive impairment. It is not a common trait of older people to suspect their lost items have been stolen. Most of us have some decrease in memory power as we age, but to not be able to remember events even when reminded and to then deny they took place is beyond common memory decrease.

It really sounds like MIL is developing dementia. Maybe it is time for an evaluation so you know what you are dealing with. You've been caring for MIL for years but dementia puts you in a whole new ballgame.

Her accusations of theft are not logical, and standard reasoning isn't likely to convince her. She is not in denial and she isn't doing this on purpose. She is unable to behave differently.

Another common behavior in dementia is to hide things, to keep them safe so the imagined thief won't get them. Then, of course, they can't remember hiding them and they are sure they are stolen. Sigh. Not a fun cycle.

Sympathize. Help. DON'T take it personally. Don't waste a lot of effort trying to reason with MIL about this. "Oh dear, your reading glasses are missing? How annoying! I know I didn't take them deliberately. Maybe I picked them up by mistake. But I'll sure help you find them."

Best wishes as you commence a new path on this caregiving journey.
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klucky Mar 2012
I was going 2 ask u if she loses alot of things like hoarders do,which I'm starting 2 think is why they save everything,which then is a sort of double negative,but I do'nt think she is,her memory u state is ok 2 saying she remembers she has a bank with $ in it,but the $ disappeared which is'nt so ok,what about taking pictures before & when the bank/$ was enjoyed with of course the trip
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