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She has been with us since Feb. We have had about 6 caregivers and she has lasted longer than any of them. We tried using an agency but had such a bad experience that we decided that private care was more affordable and dependable. I really hate to lose this one and it really isn't the food, it is more that I feel cautious about trusting her now. Mom does not have valuables laying around and I take care of all the financial stuff so the food isn't something I really keep an eye on. Finding another caregiver just fills me with despair.

Thank you all so much for your helpful advice. I did speak with her without accusing just do have any idea if it was maybe thrown out. I did assure her that mom has forgotten a few things and it may be that is what happened but that she was adamant that she had two. She got very upset and was hurt that we would ever think that of her and was not sure she could continue as mom did not feel as she could trust her. After some discussion, she agreed to stay but insisted that I keep an inventory of mom's stuff so that there was not a question in the future. I do not believe she has taken anything of value so we just chalked it up to mom being forgetful and let it go. I am sort of glad I did talk to her though and feel better about things, even if ultimately, she did take it. At least she knows that other things would be noticed. I don't keep valuables in mom's area and I have possession of her checkbook and credit cards and there is nothing of value in the house.
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Grandma1954 Jul 23, 2020
Sounds like you handled it the right way. And the fact that she brought up keeping an inventory is great.
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Before you fill yourself to the brim with despair, can we just get this straight?

There were supposedly two bags of frozen fish cutlets in the freezer. Your mother invited you to take them home with you. When you went to the freezer you found only one bag. Any other information?

If not, then if I were to jump to any conclusion from your position, it would probably have been that my mother was mistaken about how many bags were in the freezer to begin with. Yours is that the caregiver, being in straitened financial circumstances, must be a thief.

I hope you are quite certain of your facts. But in any case, would it not be better to ask the lady about this first?

Your headline asserts: caregiver is stealing food from my mother's freezer. In fact, ONE item has gone missing as of yesterday and this has yet to be explained. So ask for an explanation.
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I couldn't agree more with haileybug. First of all, be very very certain that you are positive this is who is taking the food.
Secondly, if there is proof, then I would ask you to sit with her and start with the positive. Tell her, "You know............, we have loved having you here. You are one of our best and most trusted caregivers. We would HATE to lose you. I am going to tell you what I know, and then I would like you to tell me your own part, because I cannot believe this would happen unless you felt quite desperate." Then tell her what is missing, how you know it was her. Ask for an explanation. I think in these times we may be missing the forest for the trees. People are very desperate. She may need pointing to resources. She may be the only one in her family working. There may be many mouths to feed.
At the very least you are giving this woman a chance to own this, to try to explain it, to learn from it going forward.
I would speak with her.
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BarbBrooklyn Jul 21, 2020
I can't tell you just how much I agree with Alva. There are so many possibilities here.

If you just "let this go" but leave a cloud hanging over this women's reputation, you are doing her a great injustice.

Give her the benefit of the doubt and see if she gives you a reasonable explanation.

If she is a thief, she's testing the waters and it behooves you to let her know you've noticed.

If she has a hungry family to feed, you can help her get aid, or share some of your abundance and perhaps easier access to good food.

If your mother insisted she take the fish but no longer remembers that, you have an entirely different problem on your hands.

I don't see how you lose by asking.
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My mom’s nurse couldn’t win w my brother POA (I live out of country)
She apparently found too many things that went missing-leading to my brother becoming suspicious that she was behind all the missing stuff hidden away in sock drawers, freezer, under beds and in shoes-
my brother let her go -my mom was distraught for weeks-
the missing ‘stuff’ continued and they found a lot of it because it was still put in the usual places
so be really careful accusing anyone of taking stuff especially from an Alzheimer’s patient
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NobodyGetsIt Jul 22, 2020
Very true - I think it's just good to know that when bringing any stranger into the home especially for someone with cognitive issues that there is always a "possibility" of it happening and to just use extra precautions for preventative measures. When I moved my mom into AL in 2015, I brought a gift I had bought her many years ago. It was a small lawn ornament since she liked gardening so much. I bought it for her when she helped me after my husband and I had bought our first house. I thought it would be nice to put it in her bedroom but, when we moved her in May and I had to give the facility a list of items to pack up since we weren't allowed in (they did have the original inventory list I gave them upon move-in) the Administrator said there was no such item in her room. So apparently someone really thought it was cute - and it was - or it was because it was "Precious Moments" which is considered a "collectible". I had no idea that it could have been worth around $125. Now, it's gone forever - it's not about the money though - it was a sentimental thing and I wanted to keep it at our home. Lesson learned!
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It sounds like her caregiver is desperate need of food in her home (either for herself and/or family-children). I don't condone stealing (it is a great concern in relation of loss of your trust); however, when it comes to food I don't place the same degree of blame, instead I feel emphatic as to reason why (she may be taking it home for her children who would otherwise go hungry). I think you should sit down and have a "heart to heart" talk with her ... ask her about her situation at home as to food ... perhaps give her a list of local food pantries, organizations that can help her, etc. Stealing food doesn't make her a bad person ... it just evidences her desperation... if you really like the way she cares for your mother and your mother likes her please try to help instead of firing her (so long as it isn't money, jewelry, or other items that have value) by extending a "helping hand."
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gdaughter Jul 24, 2020
sorry I didn't see your response before responding similarly below:-)
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My elderly relative who was just a little forgetful, no diagnosis of dementia, She wanted me to have some of her VCR tapes and I was thrilled, being very close to her all my life, she was about 95 years old. She told me she was giving the Shirly Temple tapes to her granddaughter One day told daughter she wanted her Shirley Temple tapes back from me, she knew it was her mothers forgetfulness. I told her she only gave me the Irene Dunn tapes. I told daughter I would give them back to her of course, but her mother insisted she gave me the Shirley Temple tapes. I was upset, I told her to get them back from her granddaughter. I learned a valuable lesson, never take anything as a gift from an elder without first checking with daughter/ son, close relative.
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Mysteryshopper Jul 22, 2020
I had a neighbor do this to me. Insisted that she had given us a toddler-sized swing for our yard and she wanted it back. Yes, they had given us other things their kids had outgrown, but not that item. I did eventually see it in another neighbor's backyard, so not sure what happened there. The whole thing was difficult. Separately, my then young daughter accepted a small toy from another child as a gift. In my haste as a young mother, I let her keep it. It appeared worthless to begin with a possibly broken as well, so I didn't worry about it. Imagine my surprise when child showed up with mom asking for the item back. Mom glared at me as if I had stolen it. Thankfully, I was able to find it quickly and I gave it back. I guess the moral of the story could be that people memories and perceptions of situations can vary widely and I think derochka's situation could involve a caregiver who either never took the food to begin with, or somehow thought it would be OK if she did.
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Order two of everything.
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AlvaDeer Jul 21, 2020
You gave me a good laugh today, and in these times do we ever need them. Thanks, Sendhelp, for "sending help"!
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Caregiver limits are a bear to deal with. We have been using an agency for a year, very expensive. We had 2 steady caregivers. Realize that they make, maybe, half of what the agency is charging you, and that’s if they are lucky. They are working in a home that obviously can afford this. Do, remove valuables, install locks on doors, rooms you don’t want them to visit. We had one who liked to cruise the house, realized we have a somewhat furnished basement and suggested he could move in there. As far as food, my husband is generous to a fault, suggested he have dinner with us and that is like inviting a vampire in. His first move upon arriving was to go to the kitchen for a big glass of milk and to stuff in a couple of Donuts or whatever goodies were around. That’s before he ate breakfast with my husband. I could go on, but I hit my limit when he asked me one morning what was for dinner. I also had to tell him that he was not allowed to open packaged foods unless given permission. Sounds petty, most of us are so grateful to have the help and generally are giving of nature, that we aren’t really good at setting employee limits. But, we are paying for their services and we need to keep the relationship at least somewhat business-like with our expectations and theirs clear. Duties need to be clear. Trust me, better for everyone involved. Do not make them a member of the family if you can help it.
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Reply to BarbChicago
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Derochka, could you just stop and think this through, please.

This lady has been working for your mother for five months and you have been very pleased with her reliability and quality of care.

And yet. You cannot bring yourself to believe that she might be completely blameless in this fish matter, can you. You're prepared to "let it go." You're content to feel reassured that at least now she knows that she can't get away with stealing anything else.

For God's sake! Suppose she has never taken and would never take *anything* that did not properly belong to her - which is, I suppose, the basic morality you'd expect of a person you'd call decent?

I think she's right. I think you'd better stick with that inventory idea, and do a stock-take every month or something like that. Otherwise she will be constantly trying to prove a negative - that she hasn't stolen anything - and she won't be able to bear it.

Put yourself in the shoes of an innocent person, and try to imagine how you would feel about what you've written.
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LuluRoxy Jul 23, 2020
Derochka- Time will tell- You have to remember that your mom is no longer a 'reliable witness' - and take what she says with a grain of salt - or a pound.
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First, I would make sure that she is stealing the food. Then I trust the old adage, "trustworthy in small things, trustworthy in large things. Whoever can not be trusted in small things can not be trusted in large things."
The boundary of stealing, once broken becomes easier and easier to steal larger and larger things.
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