How do I prevent residents from stealing grandma's food in the nursing home? - AgingCare.com

How do I prevent residents from stealing grandma's food in the nursing home?

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Hi, my grandmother is in a nursing home with a community fridge. She was admitted because among other things she had stopped wanting to cook or even heat up meals that we brought for her and because of this was not eating enough. We often bring her little treats of things she liked to eat at home (when she was making food for herself). She does enjoy them but often can't eat the whole thing. Because of all of our schedules most of the family visits her around a meal time when she does not want what we bring because she has already eaten so we put it in the community fridge with her name and the date so that if someone is visiting her in the evening she can have a snack before bed, which happens at least three times a week. Recently every item we bring her, plus the container it is in, has been stolen. We put something in the fridge, even attempt to hide it behind other things or in the crisper and when we come back the next day it is gone. I have asked the staff about this and am told they will check into it but nothing has been done. I believe the residents are taking her food but she is not allowed a personal fridge and the staff cannot monitor the community fridge. We have a hard time just bringing a small amount of something because sometimes she wants a lot if she did not like her dinner and then we feel we are depriving her. The facility does have a snack cart for other residents that are still hungry so they should not be so hungry that they are taking her food as well. I understand that many people there do not know what they are doing but it is very frustrating. Often we come from work and it is hard for us to carry ice cream or things that need to be kept cold. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to prevent food theft?

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One of the managing partners of a small firm for which I worked was always dieting, obsessively. Yet he raided the office frig. Lunches disappeared frequently. We all knew he was the culprit.

One day in the lunchroom when he was prowling around, someone made a comment that a lunch she had brought had disappeared. She commented that she was concerned b/c she had added by ex-lax to the lunch and wouldn't want someone to have accidents.

We surreptitiously stole glances at the partner; you should have seen the look on his face.
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Well, a few different ideas come to mind. When you bring Grandma meals, bring only as much as you think she can eat so there are no leftovers for the community fridge. It surprises me that there is a community fridge at all since someone could take something they shouldn't eat--like a diabetic take a piece of cake, for example. Especially since there seems like there's no supervision of the fridge. Second, for Grandma's snacks, bring things that don't need refrigeration, such as cookies, crackers, candy, chips, etc. Lastly, ask if Grandma could have one of those little dormitory fridges in her room. If needs be, maybe someone in the family could install a lock.
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That is very nice you bring her snacks,but please do not expect people with dementia
to not take things that is not theirs.
Some can eat and not remember they have eaten and it seems to then the norm if they see a fridge to look for food.
There really is no solution. Since she seems to get a lot of visitors I am sure she will not go hungry if you only bring her small snacks.
I have a feeling even if you bring her things like cookies they will go missing from her room .
This seems to be the norm in nursing homes.
You say there is a snack cart. Well she could also have a snack from that.
The thing I would worry most about is, if she is being well taken care of.
Best wishes for your Grandmother..
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Get a small lockable metal cash box that your Tupperware container will fit in. Take out the plastic part where the cash would go. Lock it, give keys to relatives, problem solved. Unless the food thief can pick locks too.
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The community frig at the two nursing homes we have used is stocked by the facility or volunteers with items intended for the use of all the residents. You say that snacks are provided, so I would limit the things you bring to an amount she can finish while you are there, it is unrealistic to expect the staff to police this. You could ask if special items like ice cream could be kept in the facility's kitchen, although your access may be limited after it is closed in the evening.
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I am wondering why your whole family feels the need to bring her food all the time. Does she tell you she is hungry? Is she losing weight?
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Hi everyone
My parents just came home from a nursing/rehab center. they were there for three months. I was there day and night and I saw so many people in their wheel chairs just roll into different rooms and come out with something. I laughed about it until I watched someone roll into moms room and stole her beautiful plant that I got her. I asked her as she came out of the room with the plant if it was hers and she this tiny thin little old cute lady replied nice and loud to me " mind your own f*cking business b*tch". at that point I decided to let the old not so cute lady keep the plant and told mom I would get her another one. I brought her a new one the day I picked her up to come home..... It happens all of the time......
ask them at the nursing station if they would keep the items in their refridge due to this constant problem..I did and they did do it for me.... good luck.....
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This is an issue for administration, I agree. My mom kept cookies (in Ziploc bags) in her bedside table and we frequently left ice cream or Italian ice in the freezer in the community fridge, marked with her name. To my knowledge, there was no pilferage.

When an item went missing from her room, administration searched everywhere (checked all of her roommate's personal belongings as well, as she was a hoarder of sorts) and offered to replace the item. I would not have stood for "it's the way it is".
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A couple points: (some address things others have said, Maybe not specifically your comments)
The nursing home is REQUIRED to provide healthful, well balanced meals and to document it, so you don't have to worry about if she is getting enough to eat. She is. So whatever you and your family bring to her is "extra" treats as you noted. But if you always visit around meal time, it is unrealistic to expect her to eat treats that require refrigeration. And this is not a private home, this is a community and communities operate differently. Accept that :-)

You cannot stop other residents from taking her things. It happens all the time and is impossible to stop it. Most often it's because the residents are confused, have memory issues, and don't even know they are doing something they "should not" do. Staff in nursing homes are always short on time, so they simply can't "babysit" a refrigerator.

Trust me, they get ice cream so you don't have to buy it, or if you do, just get a single serving and she will have to eat it while you are there. If she doesn't, you can expect it will disappear. As others suggested, if you want to bring something, make it something that doesn't need refrigeration.

About stealing clothing, that doesn't happen often, but it does get lost or sent to the wrong room when it is laundered. To avoid that issue, put name tags in all clothing and take it home to launder it! and bring it back the next week. Put a sign on the door where the dirty clothes are kept that FAMILY WILL DO LAUNDRY. The result will be a lot less lost clothes. I did that for my FIL for years and never lost anything after posting the sign. Keep in mind that the laundry tosses everybody's clothes together into the same big machine, so take the number of articles of clothing every week multiplied by the number or residents and you may get an idea of what a humongous job it is! They have industrial equipment, not the wimpy little washers and dryers we have at home.

Have you specifically asked about her having a dorm-size refrigerator? Unless you have, don't take the word of what another resident may have told you. If management has said no, ask for their suggestions on how to secure her things.

Good luck, again taking into account that she is in a community now and so some things have to be dealt with that don't occur when you are in your own home. That's life. Give that grand lady lots of love and she'll be fine.

p.s. maybe she likes to "share"
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I know it must be disappointing not to be able to offer your grandmother all the conveniences she had in her last home. This is a difficult transition in all of your lives. Very often appetites do start to dwindle at this time in their lives. It's just going to be too unrealistic to expect your refrigerated treats to always be there. As someone stated above, the main thing you want to make sure of is that she is being treated and cared for well. One thing I might suggest is to find a liquid meal replacement that taste good to her (like Ensure). someone visiting could pour it over ice and add a straw giving her a nutritious cold drink snack.
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