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I know it was morally right and ethically correct to confront him, but now he is giving me the silent treatment and I'm wondering if I was wrong to confront him because I know he has dementia? Other things that were obviously "taken" have appeared in his yard, such as some historic bricks from a nearby renovation project & some wild flowers from a nearby public park. My husband told him the bricks were being re-used at the reno site, so my dad did return the bricks for a week or two, but I noticed they re-appeared in his yard. Today I thought it would be fun to take him to a farm stand to buy some fresh produce. Before entering the farm stand, he walked right into an adjacent orchard and touched a bunch of beautiful red apples. Inside the farm stand, he noticed none of the apples were available for sale, and I explained that the apples weren't ripe yet and that the farmer would know when they were ready to be sold. He said they looked ripe to him and walked back into the orchard, picked an apple right in front of the farmer's house, and put it in his pocket. When he got in the car I asked if he had taken an apple and he said "well, yes". I said he shouldn't do that, that I knew the farmer (which I do) and that I was not happy that he had taken the apple. He proceeded to argue with me that the apples were ripe, that the farmer wouldn't miss it, etc. When we arrived back at my home, he soon pulled the apple out of his pocket and began to rave about what an intense bright red color it was. I asked him not to bring the apple out into my house, that I was upset that he had taken something. I asked him if he would take an apple from a store without paying, which really offended him because he said of course not, that at his ripe old age I should know by now that he is not a thief. I then went on to point out that he would be (and has been) very upset if/when neighbors wander into his yard to help themselves to his grapes (he has a few vintage grape vines in his yard). He then went on to say he was "sick of being treated this way" and then stormed out of my house, leaving without having our usual brunch. The storming out of the house part is nothing new, I've endured walk outs and hang ups since childhood. The "help yourself" attitude isn't new either- over the years he's been confronted about minor infringements such as using garbage dumpsters that aren't his, etc. I've always had a rocky relationship with him. My husband and I and our children are literally the only people left in his life. He still "lives alone with help mostly from me" about 30 minutes away in a rental home that my husband and I own. He is still driving, though he's been restricted to local familiar routes by his doctors. My main question is should I stop confronting him about these petty thefts, because my long term goal is to keep him safe and cared for and to have his trust for when I really need to bring in more outside help or move him into assisted living? I guess in writing this post, I realize the question is even bigger. How will I know when his belligerence is just his baseline personality, or a sign that he really needs more help than I can provide on my own?

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All this drama over an apple? If you know the farmer, apologize and offer to pay him. If he's a decent guy he will refuse. My advice to you is "chill".
You cannot control every aspect of his life, even now (could you ever?). Choose your battles. Don't fuss over anything that does not endanger life or limb, He's still driving without objection of his doctors. Endure the "walkouts" and "hangups" as you always have. Some of his failings, regardless of your feelings about "ethics", may just be ignored. He is old. Old age happens.

Is it really worth it to engage in such battles at this stage in his life and YOURS? Save your energy for what may be a more difficult task later on of getting him needed care, WHEN and not before, it is essential.
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Reply to Dosmo13
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sometimes you have to laugh at the things people with dementia do as long as no harm is done, you can mention okay we will now need to pay for the apple or whatever they have taken, please don't take anything without paying again. Hopefully they will remember what you have told them, definitely no point in upsetting yourself or your dad just watch him more closely when out, it's part of the illness, and as for care homes they need sensors in all the rooms and when one goes of the staff can go and check who is in the room and what they are doing.
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Reply to rosemaryduncan
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From a different perspective and opinion. Having been involved with management of an assisted living nursing home. I have encountered residents on a somewhat regular basis taking things. It’s part of the environment. Sometimes it is a small item and an infrequent occurrence. But we have also had residents that took more expensive and larger items. IPhones, IPads, laptops, a small flat screen TV (shoved up under a large loose bathrobe). Aide caught her leaving another residents room, holding her robe funny. When these type of incidents have been discussed with children we’ve gotten varying responses including “way to go Dad you’ve got new phone.’ I called the police on that one and following other thefts he was eventually evicted from the facility. His dementia was very mild. Psychologist felt he understood he was stealing. I think mentioning calmly ‘we need to pay for that apple’ would have been okay.
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Reply to Bridger46164
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Imho, I liked Countrymouse's "sub rosa." Done in secret as the apple was on the tree, but still needed to be made right. While certainly the elder didn't like to be "scolded," he needed to be made aware that he can't go taking bricks, apples, et al.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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Legalist recovering here!
I really do not want to dispute CM's interpretation of the law of gleaning.
So, I will say this because HonorAble has used this as an example in her dispute with her father:
" He proceeded to argue with me that the apples were ripe"....

In father's defence:
"Will an apple ripen off the tree?"
"Unlike some fruits, apples continue to ripen long after they are picked off the tree. This ripening (or over-ripening affects the texture not the taste of the fruit. ... But the big secret to keep your apples tasting crisp and fresh is this: water. That's right."

Must we go on?
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Reply to Sendhelp
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Hello HonorAble, I liked Sendhelps advice on paying for his apple, he does not need to know it was paid for. I think if my mother took a piece of fruit off the tree, I would probably go into the farm store and explain my situation and pay for it.
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Reply to earlybird
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There is a time and place for criticism. My mother was in AL and starting her mental decline. She would hide things and then accuse the aids or other residents of stealing them. She would only say this to me and as I knew her habits I would calmly say "let’s look around, maybe you just forgot where you put it." We would search her room and always find the item.

After several months of this one day I finally snapped and told her she should be careful of of making those accusations without proof. That the AL would have to investigate and discipline the aids. She was shocked and said she didn’t really think that person had stolen anything. I think it was her way of masking her forgetfulness.
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Reply to Frances73
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HonorAble,

I found that you had written this (excerpted) in Feb., about your father:
" because he's always been very critical, mean, and vindictive to me and my family."

That would explain so much.

His belligerance may be his baseline personality and he will require much more than you should be required to give on your own. Yes, bring in help, and take lots of deep breaths and breaks for yourself.
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Reply to Sendhelp
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Dear HonorAble,
How do I say this in a kind, gracious, and accepting manner to you?

Your original premise is wrong.
When you say:
"I know it was morally right and ethically correct to confront him".
It was not right for you to correct him. imo.

1) There is a benefit to allowing people to realize the consequences of their own acts. I doubt that your father's actions went unnoticed by the farmer. Maybe the farmer expects a certain amount of theft, or "gleaning" of apples. Throughout history, this has been true. You can look up gleaning.
If there was a consequence to pay, the farmer would have said something. Perhaps the farmer was being gracious.

2) With Alzheimer's, you may need to be quietly paying for that one apple when you go up to purchase your own apples, to support your Dad, and the farmer. imo. Without a word of criticism.

3) When my brother harshly lectured me for correcting people, his point came across loud and clear. And, he was right! He said: "People do not like to be corrected." He said: "Mind your own business". He said: "You are not the morality police!" And, on and on he went....

4) If you have strong opinions about ethics and morality, those ideas should be applied to yourself, not others, imo. It is not a good place to live in if you feel responsible for other's actions. Others will have their own reasons for acting as they do.

Someone has mentioned: "Lighten up." Yes, you need to do that. My own sister will have said that to me, as well as accuse me of being a prude, anal retentive, etc. I did not have to become lawless to lighten up. I did not become "like my family" or change my values.

Your statement worries me: "I asked him not to bring the apple out into my house, that I was upset that he had taken something."
This was way over-the-top girl. He is not bootlegging whiskey, not bringing in illegal drugs....it was one apple, like you said, a "minor infringement."

Maybe the only one suffering for all these minor infractions is you.
There is a statement to cover what you may be suffering from:
"You can be happy, or you can be right".

Do you want to have people enjoy being around you? If you found someone who is exactly like you, would you enjoy being around them?

If you are to become your father's caregiver, that role may bring out the worst in you. You seemed to be planning a takeover of his life.
Please get some therapy about your personality issues. Hire a really laid-back caregiver to watch over him, to give you both a break from extreme legalism on your part.

You will do well with ethics and morals to guide your own actions.
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Countrymouse Sep 16, 2020
Gleaning is about picking up what's left over. Grain after it's been harvested, apples sure if they're windfalls. But this was the pick of the bunch!

What Dad did was "scrumping." Never actually acceptable, but not traditionally treated in the same way as outright theft. More like... poaching. Sort of questionable private enterprise, sub rosa.
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With dementia, knowledge is important, for you. Support groups may be good, but you can learn a lot online (chose your websites carefully!) I knew almost nothing about dementia when I first identified an issue with my mother (mainly repetition, but in hindsight, there were some very subtle warnings that were missed!) Learned and still learning online! If you don't have POA for medical and financial, it would be advisable to see an EC atty to get these done asap (a good one will talk with him alone, to determine if he can still sign documents for this.)

One common misconception is that we can "teach" them or instruct them not to do things such as he was doing. Even if done nicely and accepted, he most likely won't retain it, as short term memory loss is usually one of the first symptoms. You need to be aware of symptoms he has now and gradual progression to other symptoms/behaviors. Not everyone gets all the symptoms, and each has their own timeline. I liken it a bit to how children grow, learn and become proficient, only in reverse. Every child learns and grows at their own pace, and it is the same with dementia. While today he may still have this capability, it could be gone tomorrow and you have no warning!

If he takes something when he is with you, you can gently guide him to put it back or pay for it, but don't make a big deal about it. You can't argue with, convince or change their mindset. It will only frustrate you and anger him. If he refuses to go along with returning an item or paying for it, the suggestion others made to explain to them his situation and/or offer to pay for/return any item taken should be sufficient and understandable. Dementia has become such a big thing now that most people know of it and understand, to a point.

Taking items is very common, esp in a facility. They just don't know any better. It's best not to have any treasured items or items of value in a facility. He does sound like he would be a candidate for a companion, to watch over him and help keep him out of trouble. The doctor telling him to stay to local familiar places when driving seems misguided. My mother more or less did this on her own, but mostly because she couldn't remember how to get anywhere but the local store! Minor unexplained damages plus a blown tire necessitated us taking the car away. She insisted she knew nothing about the damages (was fine when she drove it last!) or that she hit anything to cause the tire issue (split from rim to ground, rim damaged, metal around wheel well peeled back and bent! She HAD to have hit something to have that happen!)

Whether he accepts someone to be with him all the time or not might impact decisions. We started with 1 hr/day and it didn't last 2 months (she refused to let them in.) Taking him into your own home has repercussions too. It is something you could try, but I would be scoping out MC facilities, just in case it doesn't work out. He sounds rather head-strong, so living in your home may cause more problems than it solves!

Most important for now is to learn what you can so you know what to expect and look for, and ensuring legal documents are in place. Being that he will regress more and more into child-like behavior, he will need more supervision and oversight. Driving is going to be a dicey thing - many really buck you when you try to curtail it or take the car away! Some will listen to the doctor, others won't. Some have license revoked, but continue to drive anyway! Although we might have been able to let mom keep the car a little longer, I was more concerned about the repercussions of her causing an accident, injuring or killing herself or someone else than I was about how she would react to it or her getting lost.

You can't wait until the horse is out of the barn to close the barn door.
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Reply to disgustedtoo
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No parent wants to be scolded by their children.

II personally think that you are building a wall that will cause you serious problems in the future.

He is not a child and you should not treat him like one, even though dementia makes it seem like they are children. I mean, his doctor has said he could drive close to home, you have a long journey ahead of you, so learn to pick your battles now to save your own sanity.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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You are making a mountain out of an anthill. Sounds like you have been “playing the judgmental parent” to him for a long time. Lighten up! Everything you describe is chicken feed. Wait until he does something significant before you start sounding off to him with morality lectures. Most people would give anything to have your problem!
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Reply to Chellyfla
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If he has dementia, he has dementia. Forget about his 'infringements' from the past. If he is taking things that don't belong to him, he needs more eyes on him during the day. As for an apple (or such) that you observe being taken, explain to the vendor about his illness and pay for it. It happened on your watch. Just the same as if a child took something. The only difference is you may be able to punish the child and teach consequences by calling them out. You probably are not accomplishing any sort of punishment/consequence lesson with your dad.

The down side to his behavior is many people will not realize he has dementia if he is caught. He could end up in jail, depending on what he takes, and the illness identified after the fact. He doesn't need to go to jail. He may be told he is restricted to certain routes while driving, but that does not mean he will stay on the route. Should he have a 'moment' he could end up many miles away and lost.

He already needs more help than he's getting if returned bricks appear back in the yard again. Clearly, he is doing things during the day that you are not aware of. It's time to move him closer to you or to another living arrangement (facility or your house). Since the house belongs to you, it's possible you could tell him you need to make some major repairs and no one can live in the house while repairs are going on to initiate this move.

If he will wear a necklace device, buy him an urgent call button. The one made by Great Call - 5 star can be tracked online 24/7 in the event he wanders or gets lost in the car. It would be a great investment until you sort this all out. Walgreens even has a deal going on right now for 25% off - instore or online. I've had one for my parent for many years and very pleased with the product.
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Reply to my2cents
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As far as confronting him, I would have said “ah, I see you helped yourself to an apple from the tree? You know we need to go over to the stand and pay for that, right? if he protests, then say “this may not be a grocery store, but the farmer sells his produce to support his family, so we need to pay for what we take.” Offer him a chance to go so the right thing and if he doesn’t then just quietly go do it. Trying to drive home a moral lesson by going on about it at home was overkill. His brain can no longer connect the dots. People with dementia and Alzheimer’s lose that filter and they lose impulse control. They don’t remember the “why and why not” so they make up their own rules. It’s a coping mechanism.
As far as the driving, I would recommend that you get a device like this that you can install in his car. He will not even see it. It will allow you to know where he is, and how he is doing with driving. Hard stops, speed and even if it seems like he’s getting lost. It was a lifesaver for us and will also help you to have data to show him/doctor when you feel it’s time to stop.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01FHCQIU6/ref=sspa_mw_detail_1?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Reply to DILKimba
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Instead of being confrontational, expect that he will "help himself" to whatever he fancies. Whenever you are out, check before leaving for any items that have wandered into his pockets - and make him pay for them. As for the bricks, contact the foreman of the job and explain the situation. Maybe somebody can come over to liberate them from your father or they will find a way to secure them better. With his mental health issues and broken moral compass, you will not be able to fix this problem - only manage it.
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Reply to Taarna
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The others may not agree with me - but I think you SHOULD confront him, especially about any illegal behavior. Petty thefts could turn into major thefts. Do you really want him to be arrested because limits are not placed on his behavior?
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disgustedtoo Sep 16, 2020
Confrontation is something that really isn't going to help much when dealing with dementia. They might be beyond capability of understanding it and/or not remember anything you said (but could still be angry with you, as that emotion tends to stick around longer than the memory of what was said or done!)
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Thank you so much AlvaDeer! Your reply brought a tear to my eye, but it was a good tear. I needed to hear what you had to say as I'm sure it would closely reflect what my dad would have said if he had a better grasp of his words and feelings right now. And yes, I do fear that I feel like I am beginning to act more like his mother. I will try to be more of an advocate and less of a supervisor and we WILL get out and make applesauce!
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I would have given them a few bills behind his back.  My mom has no understanding what things cost, and thinks that I should pay the aid $1 a hour
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HonorAble Sep 13, 2020
Thank you Florida DD!
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You are entering the world of your dad with dementia. If he takes something that can be paid for or returned do so. Dad's reality is changing, so will his behavior. I would encourage you to call The Alzheimer's Association & find a support group which will probably be virtual at this time. They will also be a good resource for you & you can learn more about behavior changes & how to handle them. Offer to take him to see his doctor on his next appointment & have his doctor perform a cognitive test. Hopefully your dad will be okay with it. If you don't think he will, call the doctor ahead of time & ask him to perform one. Who monitors his driving to make sure he's safe to drive? How is his reaction time? Find reasons to ride with him & if he's not safe to drive, inform the doctor & have him inform your dad that it's time to stop driving or to call DMV & have them retest him for safety. How is his house? Are walkways clear, kitchen fairly clean, laundry being done, he's bathing & wearing clean clothes? Those are also ways to see if he's functioning by himself or is help needed at home. Good luck with helping your dad.
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Reply to ToniFromRVA
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AlvaDeer Sep 13, 2020
Such a great idea, the support group. I am going to steal it and pretend it is mine! I hear there are good groups on Facebook as well, with a wealth of folks dealing with all this, having good information.
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With dementia soon he will no longer "know" the familiar routes so driving should soon be discontinued. Particularly with winter soon I would hate to have him drive off to go to the store only to be found with the car in a farmers field 3 towns away. (an the question is would he be found in time?)
The apple I would not have said anything about.
Any other theft that you discover if the items can be returned without a problem do so with an apology and an explanation. (I did quite a few of those myself)
It truly sounds like your dad should not be living alone.
I would either make plans to ...
Find a caregiver for him.
A move to Assisted Living then transition to Memory Care when that is needed.
last resort..move him in with you. NOT the ideal situation. If this does enter as a possibility please read any one of the hundreds of posts on this site about that very situation.
Your last question...how will you know he needs more help....he needs it now just by the amount of supervision it would take to monitor his behavior
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Reply to Grandma1954
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HonorAble Sep 13, 2020
Thank you for your thoughtful reply Grandma1954. You have shared some helpful perspectives.
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Morally right and ethically correct maybe. But at what cost? I'm sure you relish your relationship with dad, so you'll want to eliminate or reduced any confrontation. That means understanding how dementia affects someone and what responses would be appropriate. He is obviously in the early stages and the challenges will only get greater. Your job is to educate yourself thru reading and research. To do that, however, you need to know what's causing his dementia. Dementia merely refers to symptoms and is, in itself, not a disease. Unfortunatly, most symptoms are caused by AD. Once you know the cause, you can begin to learn about the disease. A PCP isn't trained to diagnose the cause, see a neurologist.

I applaud you for your long term goals, they are right on. However, be aware of your capacity to care for him. Attend dementia support groups to share your concerns with others who are caregivers. Because of COVID most are conducted virtually instead of live. Call the Alz Assn hotline to find a meeting (1-800-272-3900)
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HonorAble Sep 13, 2020
Thank you sjplegacy. I will call Alz Assn tomorrow!
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HonorAble:
There's a whole lot I want to say here. But basically I can leave it with the fact your Dad comes from another time. My time. When we used to pull an apple right off the tree, admire it, shine it up, bite in and say either "delicious" or "oops. Not ripe yet".
I think that much of this makes me think of all the many indignities our elders suffer, all the losses one after another. The loss of being "the parent", "the teacher", the "fixer". The "protector" and the "provider" of and for our children. It has to be difficult, don't you think, to be treated then, after long life, like a child that stole an apple?
Now. To the bricks. The bricks are a problem.
This entire post gave me the giggles more than once, and I know you are serious. But dementia is dementia, and if your Dad perceives you as trying to become his Mom, he is going to back up against that with a lot of fury.
I would love for you to attend a few sessions with a Social Worker who specializes in life passages, and in working with people with Alzheimer's. Your intentions are great. But you need a good dose of the realities of dementia, and what might work best.
Best to you, and to Dad. I grew up in orchards. I love apple time. ALL OF IT. So I hope you can find one of those farms where Dad helps you pick, and then you and he together make a whole mess of applesauce and cider. Have good fun.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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HonorAble Sep 13, 2020
Thank you so much AlvaDeer! Your reply brought a tear to my eye, but it was a good tear. I needed to hear what you had to say as I'm sure it would closely reflect what my dad would have said if he had a better grasp of his words and feelings right now. And yes, I do fear that I feel like I am beginning to act more like his mother. I will try to be more of an advocate and less of a supervisor and we WILL get out and make applesauce!
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