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My mom lives in a Dementia unit in a retirement community. She steals, or I prefer to call it "shops", since that was one of her favorite pasttimes before she got dementia, from the other residents. I find stuff in her room all the time that doesn't belong to her, even men's clothing. She thinks the laundry room, which is unlocked, is her own personal Macy's. I think she knows somehow that these things aren't hers, because she hides them deeper than she hides her own stuff (another dementia behavior she has - hiding things.) She even wears other women's shoes and wears the men's clothes, too, sometimes! I find jewelry in her room that I don't recognize, and I don't know whether she helped herself to it from someone else's room, or whether it's just something of her own that I hadn't seen before. She does the opposite, too. She'll put her things in other people's rooms - her walker, her wheelchair, purse, food, etc. A lot of the residents do this, I think. But she seems to do it the most. She tries to take things of mine when she comes to my house, too. I just check her bag before I take her home, to get my things back. She has no sense of what is hers and what isn't.
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My Husband steals from me..out of my purse...if he ever steals from the stores we go too...I will drive away and leave him there !! Whatever happens after that .....happens...I am not hiring a lawyer, paying his fines...he can stay in jail and deal with it...!!
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DMP1127...an excellent way to describe what is going on with your husband..".the doctors have told him he has dementia and he doesn't remember they told him"....that will need to be your mantra as you move forward on this path. Your husband and my mom sound like twins; I still struggle with the "I already explained this to you a million times" frustration, but it's not going to change.

There were lots of good ideas to help deal with the stealing of items, but I want you to think about his going out alone. I don't know where you live, but I hope you have thought about an emergency plan in case he were to be out and then forget how to get back home. Over the past few years, I've read too many times about elderly people with dementia being lost. I'm so glad you have your faith to help you through this. Peace and good wishes.
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My Dad used to eat his way through the store, to my Moms horror. When they moved here I alerted the store staff at our small town store. They love Dad, and we deal with it.. I love small towns!!
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MY CAREGIVER FOR MY HUSBAND(WHO IS A FAMILY MEMBER,IS TAKING FOOD ITEMS)I DON'T WANT TO STOP HER FROM COMING SINCE SHE'S THE ONLY ONE WHO COMES TO HELP,BUT AM CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT ELSE WILL SHE TAKE,HOW DO I HANDLE THIS??
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The biggest problem I have with my husband is that he still goes out alone. I just became aware of the whole stealing thing about 2 weeks ago. My husband feels there is nothing wrong with him, "just a little memory loss from old age" He is 81. I am 66. The Drs have told him he has dementia but, he doesn't remember they told him. So when I try to tell him, he thinks I am saying he is crazy, and I am the only one. I am going to call the Dr and have him explain it to him again. I don't want to take away his independence, but I am getting afraid that might be the safest way to protect him. He is very high functioning. He takes care of his personnal hygiene, and can prepare some small breakfast food. Even though I find lately he is taking showers much less than before. He was a shower a day man, now he might shower once a week at best. He is good at pretending to be ok around other people, but that is starting to crack. I have gotten calls from people saying they think he is forgetting things. He doesn't want anybody to know his condition. His brother has alzhiemers. He often says how bad his brother is, but he doesn't realize he is heading in that direction. I took care of my grandfather who had dementia along time before he passed, I should be use to it. But it is different in each person, and this is my husband, whom I love dearly. I believe in Jesus, and my faith will bring me through this. Amen.
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My husband went through a phase where he would steal M&Ms at Wal-Mart. This would happen even after he saw that I had a large bag in the shopping cart to take home. He would slip around the corner and then head for the checkouts. He would put a package of M&Ms in his pocket, walk out to the sidewalk, and pour all the candy into his hand and start stuffing his mouth. I alerted the cashiers about the problem and began paying for a king-size bag of M&Ms each time I checked out. Sometimes he would just get the regular size, but I always paid for the larger item, just in case. Sometimes I could catch him, bring him to the checkout with me and he would still try to stuff one in his pocket as I paid the cashier! Only once did a security person stop him and the cashiers told her what was going on and directed her to me. She was all cool about it and thanked me for our business. He went on this spree for about a year. He then started refusing to leave the car and while I shopped, he would find stuff in the car and throw it out the window. I would have to walk around to his side, look around and under the car before driving off. He tossed a book, a camera, receipts, mail, phone cords, gum, cups, etc. sometimes even while I was driving. I longed for the shoplifting days. LOL
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Jessie Belle, I'd give them about 4 hours at the county jail, then they would call me and demand that I come get her. LOL
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Jessiebelle.. thanks for the laugh..... my husband would have said the same thing! Respite!!!!! DMP1127.......... I sure hope he is not still driving. He lacks the ability to make good decisions and the consequences of poor choices.. Often the impulse control area of the brain is affected. I bet he comes out with some doozies! We have found a neuropsycology evaluation very helpful. Because we are not experts on dementia the person we care for is usually much worse than we know. My motherinlaw has had 3 . This is imperative to have dementia staged for proper care. If it were my child, I would have to take them back to store to pay for it, to teach them what is right. Thanks for sharing!
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I would let the stores know of his issues so they hopefully won't press charges if they catch him. But you have to remember dementia is a tough illness and yes there are times when there seems like nothing is wrong and they can "agree" to not do something but then end up doing it anyway. They really just don't know they are doing it sometimes. So even though he says he won't do something 10 min later you may find him doing it. They just don't remember and for us taking care of someone with this issue it is really frustrating. We have a van and my MIL needs a step stool to get into the van. We were going out one day and I told her to get ready and wait for me by the car. Mostly so I could make sure she didn't fall backwards which she does do sometimes. I got a phone call I had to take and in the 5 min I was on the phone she forgot she needed a step stool even though I tell her every time she get in the van she needs it. I get to the car and she is laying on her stomach on the passenger seat trying to pull herself into the van by grabbing the drivers seat. She is only 4' 9" tall (very short) so she was like a turtle with no traction. Got her out and yup I was yelling at her more for the fear like you would have when you find your toddler doing something dangerous and she kept telling me she knew she was supposed to use the step stool (next to the van by the way) but just didn't because she forgot and she though she could make it. So frustrating but she just can't help it and will continue to try to do this even though she has reassured me she will always use the step.

Its so hard to know that even though they seem like they can reason these things out, make promises ect they really can't because the illness is such that they just don't have control over these things. When they say it they really do mean it but 5 min later they just don't remember.
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I think that you should alert store management, too. I did not deal with this with my husband, but I know that it is very common in certain types of dementia. (My husband was very proud to be able to write a check or carry cash to pay for his purchases. It helped him feel independent in some ways.) It is the disease, not a change in your husband's basic value system. That he agreed to stop doesn't mean that he can.

It sounds like at least he knows he has dementia, even if he doesn't want anyone else to know. That can be helpful if you can talk to him in his more lucid moments. I applaud you for trying to support his independence as long as you can.

Seeing these changes in our life partner is heartbreaking. Hugs to you as you deal with the need to be socially responsible and also supportive of your husband.
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Thanks everyone! My husband is still very independent. i have been trying to let him stay independent until he gets real bad, but that time is approaching quickly. I had a very strong talk with him, and he agreed to stop. I also told him I am going to tell everyone at the store he has dementia, and he doesn't want that! So hopefully it will stop. One good thing though, he is going to take the driving skills test that the Dr wants him to take, that was part of the agreement not to tell everyone. I still think I am going to alert the store management.
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I've experienced this with my mom and she has dementia and just slips little things in her purse sometimes. I gently remind her when we get to the register that she put the item in her purse. She'll have other items in a cart or basket but a trinket maybe that she "shoplifts". I'm appalled and don't understand it -- it's like she feels entitled yet she has plenty of money. I remind her "its shoplifting" and then she says, I wasn't shoplifting, don't know how it got there, fell in, etc. -- but my gut tells me otherwise. She's 91.

I'm not with her most of the time, she lives out of state and independently. I just remind her if she is caught shoplifting the store may prosecute and I threaten she could go to jail or they'll put her in a NH....

If she gets caught, she gets caught and although that will be traumatic it is a consequence we can't control. The only thing you can do is make sure you are with him at all times and keep an eye on him. Other than that, he will have to suffer the humiliation if he gets caught. If you get home with the item; do the right thing and return to the store and pay for it.
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MY FIL when the dementia wasn't as bad as it is now did the same once we had to put him into assisted living memory unit the "stealing" still happened. I think its just part of the illness as everyone on the floor took things. when they take it they really think its theirs and is ok to take. Again just part of the illness. My FIL had a walker and when he left his room he thought the hall with all the wonderful tables in the halls set up with wonderful decorations was the Mall and he was shopping. He would fill his basket take it back to his room and put the stuff out once a week the staff would gather all those things not his and put them back in the display. When he would participate in activities something would end up in his basket and again once a week or when they needed it the staff would get the stuff. It wasn't just him though every resident on the memory loss floor did this (they either had Alzheimer's or dementia) After he went in we found out my MIL would cover for him in stores when they went shopping.

If its something he is going to continue to do then I just wouldn't take him with you to the stores especially if you know its a busy time of the day and you can't keep an eye on him.
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I was just thinking if my mother got thrown in jail. Respite time! (Oh, I'm evil)
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Oh my! I hope I don't have to add this my Mom's list of things to watch out for..

But at this point I'd just keep telling her that if she continues to steal she'll get arrested and thrown in jail!!!
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Stores do blacklist people that are known for shoplifting. If he got caught, then he may not be permitted in the store.
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Oh, shoplifting? If he will not stop, don't take him to the store any more. Or, if there is a store where this happens frequently you might consider talking with the manager, explain the problem, hen let him get caught once, maybe that will cure him. If the store knew ahead of time, they most likely would not call the authorities.
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You took the words right out of my mouth when you wrote that his judgment is flawed. Often we have to make up for their lack of judgment, like going with them when they are at risk of doing something. One thing you have in your favor is that he has dementia. If he does get caught walking out with something, explain to the police and store manager what the problem is and make restitution. I hope that it is a phase he is going through that will not last long. I know it is stressful.
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The person we are caring for. My husband was diagnose with mild to moderate dementia, and his judgement is flawed. He goes in the stores and if the lines are to long or if he just fills like it, he walks out with item. I mentioned it to him,and he just strugs it off, saying no one will miss it! I am so afraid he will get caught, and we will pay a big price. He doesn,t want to accept the dementia diagnosis.
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Do you mean the person we're caring for or another family member. I'm sure many of us have some thieves in the family. Let us know a bit more.
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