Is this a usual trait?

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Hi,


I've posted a few times on here about my mother but we've noticed a new 'thing' she's doing and wondered if it's just her, or is it a 'usual' trait? She's stealing our food..

My mum lives in a 2 bed annex joined to our house and recently we've noticed her taking our food. She has her own kitchen and does her own shopping but we've seen her come into our house and take ice creams... I know its only ice creams and its nothing in the big scheme of things but then when we ask her 'Have you had an ice cream cause they have all gone, and we haven't had any?' she just looks blank and all innocent "no..."


As I said it's only a silly ice cream and if she asked she could have the whole lot. It's the slyness of how it happens. We know it's her, as we have caught her red handed. It's now moved on to other foods. If she asked it wouldn't be a problem but she stealing it and then denying all knowledge of it! Is it trying to have some sort of control (even if we know whats going on)??

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I truly believe it is a sign of dementia. When I would visit my mother, in Memory Care, I would often find things in her room that didn’t belong to her. I know she went into other resident’s rooms because the nurses told me she’d try to get into bed with people. Once, before the smoke break, the aides set packs of cigarettes out on their desk in preparation of taking the residents who were smokers outside to smoke. My mom saw the packs and took them. She’s quit smoking decades earlier. When I discovered them in her room and asked her why she took them, she said she was going to give them to me, and she thought if we had visitors in our home we could offer them “a smoke”. I thanked her for thinking of me and our “guests” but asked her to please not take things that weren’t her’s. She also swiped a photo album from another’s room and then tried to figure out who all the people in it were.

If Mom has access to your home and she has become a “kleptomaniac”, I would not leave valuables out. My mom had a penchant for throwing things away, too. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t leave it out.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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I've seen a little square device called a Tile finder. It's a Bluetooth device that you can attach to any object. You use your smart phone to find out where the item is located. People use it for keys a lot. In the context of dementia, you could put it on important things like a purse. Then you can find it when it gets hidden. There are also shoe inserts with gps so you can find your loved one when they wander off. You just have to hope they have the shoes on when they go. There are lots of tech things that can be employed. You just have to think about how a device ment for monitoring you pet from your phone for example, can be used to check on grandmum. By the way, if someone is hiding things under the bed, be cool about it. At least you know where the stuff is! I'm not being disrespectful when I say that techniques that work with children can be helpful. Also you can always give YOURSELF a time out. When you're upset, go sit somewhere with a timer and take 5 or 10 minutes to just breathe.
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Reply to Toadhall
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I'm not sure what might be going on in the mind of your mum, my sis works in a facility and hoarding food is one of the problem behaviours that keep coming up. Some people would clean out all the snacks left in the common areas and their rooms were full of rotting fruit etc, I'm not sure if it comes from a past when food was hard to come by or if it is just a result of wanting something and then forgetting they have it, or maybe a little of both.
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Reply to cwillie
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JoAnn29 Jul 24, 2018
In Moms AL they had an area set up with snacks and drinks. One of the CNAs told me to watch two of the women residents. They went to the snacks and pocketed everything and scurried back to their rooms. One of the male residents likes his cookies. They were taking the snacks so he wouldn't get them. So, when I went to McDonalds I would buy a pkg of cookies and take them to Harold. One of the cohorts even said "Where are my cookies". They get like children.
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Hi,
Why not just buy her her owm? Get the same brand. Put it right where she can see it in her freezer.

Then hide your own, like behind the frozen peas and broccoli.

Its worth a shot....
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Reply to Pepsee
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Sorry this is so long...My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2012 and still living in her own house. My brother and I made arrangements that she was not lone between my ourselves and care givers. In 2013 she started hiding food and silverware in her bedroom dresser and chest drawers. One day I opened up her drawer to put away clothes and there sat a can of tuna. As I looked through her drawers, I found more food and silverware and cookware. I didn't say anything to her, since I knew she wouldn't know how it got there. She also would hide her purse under or behind her bed, bathroom vanity, behind the sofa, in kitchen cabinet or anywhere else that was a strange place. I spent a lot of time looking for her purse, because she would not leave the house without it, that part she would remember. She didn't have anything in her wallet except for a driver license that was not longer valid (we had her driving privileges revoked) and $10. My brother always made sure she had some kind of money so she could put her money in the church collection plate or if we took her out to lunch she was insistent of paying her own way. We would put her $10 back in her wallet when she wasn't looking or around. In 2013 my brother stayed mostly (I lived out of state about 750 miles, but would stay when I could) at her home at night and caregivers during the day. My mom got on this kick of not having the air conditioning on saying it was a waste of money. My brother would turn it on and after mowing her yard he would come in and the house would be hot or he would wake middle of the night and the house would be hot to find that she had turned the air off. While she was on this air conditioning kick my brother said he went along with it and got a box fan and he would come in and the fan would be missing. My mother would hide it behind her living room drapes Then my mom got on a kick of having the screen door wide opened all day and evening. My brother stated that he was killing flys all day and mosquitos at night. My brother said they had many arguments of this and he said he knew she wasn't getting it, it was just frustrating. Finally, that phase ended. As for hiding the food at first we thought maybe she was remembering back to her child hood days. Her family was very poor and food was not abundant and sometimes almost nonexistent when she was little. In 2014 my mother's care greatly advanced and we found a great memory care center and placed her there. At first she was not happy, but as time went on she no longer said/asked anything about her house and seemed to accept it. My mother is now in the later stages of Alzheimer's and one day will not eat and the next eat very little. I expect any day or week I will receive a phone call from my brother that she has passed. So sad, but you have to have a sense of humor at all of the findings and things they put you through with this horrible disease.
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robinr Jul 24, 2018
OMG...can so relate with your brother and the a/c issues.  IT'S hot out.  So my feeling is, if you're cold, then go sit outside till dinner is ready because I'm sweating cooking dinner for YOU!  A person caregiving, especially alone with no supports can only take so much.  So, I tried an honest, albeit nasty approach and the last note I posted over the thermostat when cooking read "LEAVE THIS ALONE or it will be the last time I ever cook dinner for you."  I saw her...she lifted the note up, turned the a/c to heat and snuck down the back stairs so I wouldn't catch her!  However, I waited till she was in the back hall mid journey ran out, switched it, and went back to cooking!
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Moecam & many others are spot on!

Would like to add that if they are no longer in charge of their own finances there is a "fear factor" that they will run out of money or maybe already have since they no longer "see" it. I often assure my Mother that she has enough money to live comfortably and how thankful I am that she did such a good job with her finances over the yrs.

Therefore the urge (instinct/survival mechanism)to hoard and ration just as they had to when growing up kicks in. Some of our LO's reality is reverting back to their childhood....you cannot change that or convince them otherwise...you just end up fighting with yourself.

My only concern is that refrigerated foods will be left out/hidden and inadvertently consumed. I got some great answers on my question "Looking for ideas on hand to mouth non refrigerated foods" on this site.

As hard as it is try to remember it is the aging process/disease talking and not your Mother. It is hard to come to terms with all the comfort, care and reassurance along with the many sacrifices you have made to give her that security & it seems it's not working or sometimes "never enough." But it is! She can no longer return those same comforts and appreciation to you as she once did and believe me I know (tearing up now) it's a profound loss before you actually do lose her.

Please don't take this as a criticism but I feel I have been in your shoes. You want the problem to be the "ice cream".....its not the "ice cream." To recognize that is HEART BREAKING beyond belief.
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Reply to lucyinthesky
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Myownlife Jul 24, 2018
Your first paragraph is oh so true... my mom obsesses all the time about her money in her checking and savings and wants to see her credit card statement. So I frequently print them up to give to her, so she can see for herself.
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Lots of things going on here, but most of them begin with diminished capacity -- dementia at least in an early stage.

Sometimes it's lack of boundaries -- she thinks of you as her 'kid' and forgets that you're an adult with your own goals, priorities, and plans for dinner and desert.

Sometimes it's fear of loss, or impulsiveness.

Some people who used food as a way of calming themselves develop a habit of going to the refrigerator, freezer, or cupboard whenever they feel the least stress ... and in dementia they're anxious all the time. They may know they can't remember, and they have trouble making sense of the environment. Add to that the fact that she may not remember having eaten just a few minutes ago.

Lying about it may be as sly and sneaky as it looks ... or it may be a symptom that dementia specialists call 'confabulation' -- the person recognizes that someone wants them to answer a question, but they have no idea what the truth is ... they don't want to look as foolish as they feel, so they make something up. Sometimes it looks like a bizarre example of the social white lie.

You know, like "Oh I'm so sorry I forgot your birthday, I had it on my calendar on the wrong date!" or "I'm afraid I can't go to your meeting, I have to work."

She may genuinely have no memory of even opening your freezer, much less taking something out of it.

I second the suggestion of looking in bizarre places just in case. Orange juice in the closet, shoes in the toaster, gloves in the freezer and ice cream under the bed. (sigh)

Good luck.
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Reply to maggiebea
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My 93 year old mother , who lives with us, hides things under her bed because she says that my husband takes all her stuff. She then gets mad when she can't find what she has hidden. When I ask her what my husband has taken she says she can't remember, but that she has to hide everything so he can't take it. If I don't laugh about it I'd be crying.
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Reply to a2briede
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This can be yet another sign of dementia - you don't say how old she is but on a guess she either grew up during the depression or shortly afterwards - she would have been taught not to waste food as it is precious & that would be a deep seated memory that would have underscored many other actions for her whole life -

Some items like ice cream then would have been a once a year treat so deep down it was even more precious - most likely she lived through WWII when there was rationing - nearly everyone ate canned vegetables because there was no lettuce or fresh vegetables in winter - few could keep frozen veg & when was the last time you had canned veg? - we eat differently than our parents & grandparents

Dementia then kicks in so that an adult exhibits behavior that a child would do - a 6 year old might steal ice cream & deny it - her memory could be so short that within minutes she will truly forget she took it & ate it - which will be about when she takes last bite her so the next step could be eating part & putting it down as she forgets she is eating it - so her 'lies' are not true lies because of the dementia so please stop using that term possible using the gentler 'denial'

My mom [born 1926] in nursing home would still hoard crackers & other half of her sandwich 'for later' - we had to keep a look out because things would go bad/moldy - when we cleaned out her house there were piles of clean used pie plates, margarine containers, plastic take away containers etc piled for 'in case'
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Toadhall Jul 24, 2018
You are so right about WW II and the mindset of our elders. Rich310 sounds British in his writting. They had rationing/shortages for some years AFTER the war as well.
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I don't know how far along your mum is with dementia, but prepare yourself for changes that come out of the the blue. She may not remember what she did with the ice cream. So it could be memory impairment. In later stages of dementia, people don't remember a full meal five minutes afterceating. Some residents at my mum's memory care have lost the concept of private property. Think about a small child. When they are very young, they think everything belongs to them. Ladies would come to my mum's room and shop her closet. There was a lady at an assisted living I visit who takes all of the yougert cups from the common room fridge and puts them in her room fridge. The staff just takes them back when she's not looking.
Of course she could be a sly fox. The problem is that it is hard to tell. Every time my mum told me about some event, I had to figure out how likely is that to be true.
In the future you may want to have the food supply in common. Everyone adds to the shopping list and the cost is divided per person. If you see to it that her fridge is stocked up with ice cream, you may get to keep yours. The point is to be flexible in your thinking about how to solve these kind of problems.
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