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My mother is 75 yrs old. She has always taken things that were mine since I was a teenager. Of course, I didn't know it was her until I had to move back home in my 20's. Now, with my dad gone and I am back home she has gotten worse. She does have early or medium dementia. My therapist says she takes my things because she likes them, but that doesn't make any sense to me. She has taken one of my dad's shirts that she gave me when he passed away and it happened shortly after I moved in, however, when I had a fit about it the shirt ended up reappearing. The same thing happen with my arm brace. It came up missing and I had a fit and it reappeared. Since than she has taken my eye brow pencil, 2 pairs of high heels (which she can't or ever could wear), my curling iron, my business bag. I had a fit about these things but I have never gotten them back! She is the only one who could do it because only she and my BF are in the house. My BF of going on 17 yrs has not nor would he ever do anythings like this.


Just this past week, I had a top sheet and a pillow case come up missing. I had a fit and told her that I no longer can live this way and that she will have to move to a AL and my BF and I would move out and sell the house to help pay for her care. As if by magic the sheet and pillow case showed back up right where I looked for it. The other things are probably in her room! I don't believe she takes my things because she likes them and if it was dementia making her do it she wouldn't return them. But like I said, she has always taken my things. (It was never this bad). She even takes my cat's toys!


Here is my question, is she doing it out of spite, or is she trying to drive me crazy? Or is it just passive aggressive behavior? She still can do something for herself like using the bathroom, cook simple things, bath, but now I take care of her finances.


Remind you when I moved back home I didn't know she had dementia, nor did I know just how bad she had it in for me!


Thank you for any opinions.

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Shell, you said this started when you were a teenager. I wonder if she is like my mom, saw you as a pretty young lady that had your whole life ahead of you and the jealousy and resentment took hold, creating a sick need to hurt you because she would never be young with all options open to her again. My sick mom viewed and views me as unbeatable competition and tries to run me into the dirt in a thousand different ways. I have to watch my purse if I go visit, she steals money right out of it if she has access to it.

That it escalates when nothing is said made me wonder.
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Shell38314 Apr 1, 2019
I have thought about that. My dad adore me and I had a better childhood than her, meaning I grew up in one house, she moved all the time. I had boys calling all the time, I was also a teen model. I had friends. And not to sound like a smartie. I went to college and have three degrees. She never graduated from high school. In fact, she took my high school diploma.

There is a lot of articles on how mothers become jealousy of their daughters because the mother has low self-esteem and low self-worth. (APA)

She for whatever reasons thinks that everything come easy to me, but we all know nothing come easy in this world!

As I am writing this it just dawn on me how she has said, "she wishes she was like me because I stick up for myself and don't put up with people's crap" where she lets people walk all over her! Little does she realize that I am coming to the end of my rope with her and her foolishness!

Thank you for responding.
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Sounds like she does it bc she's a kleptomaniac. She probably gets a rush from stealing things that don't belong to her. The dementia she has has nothing to do with it. Take her bedroom door off it's hinges and check her room every night b4 bedtime. Earning someone's trust is hard for anyone but if your Mom can't understand that, she'll quickly understand that privacy is earned once items you own stop disappearing. If she keeps it up, place her in a facility. The stress she's causing is just making a bad situation worse on everyone and by taking her bedroom door off, she'll learn something about respect, trust and most importantly boundaries.
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Shell38314 Mar 31, 2019
Thank you for your response. My mother has never known boundaries--ever! Isn't it a little late to teach an old woman new tricks?
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Either kleptomania or a desire to cause your "fits" are most likely. Try not having reactions, just speak calmly about things disappearing and magically reappearing without blame or simply don't mention it at all. It might be a game she's playing with you or she might be unable to control her taking of things. Either way the stress you go through isn't helping you for sure. See if it all stops when you stop reacting.
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Shell38314 Mar 31, 2019
Thank you for your reply. When I don't react she does it more! I feel like she wants to drive me crazy or punish me. For what who knows!
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Some people have strange ways to exert their “power”, especially in a role that they were once in control (“YOU might have a job, but I have your shoes!”). If it were my (92yo) mom, I would sit down with her and ask, “what was going through your mind when you took my shoes, because this is not going to work?” She obviously knows she did it.
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Shell38314 Mar 31, 2019
Thank you for replying. Although, I did have a little chuckle at your post, I have tried to sit down and talk to her about taking my things. Yes, I was calm however, she denies it even when I find my things in her room. She will play like--how did that get in my room? I must of grabbed it by accident! Accident my azz! She just keeps lying about it!😠

I am at a lost!
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I think there are locks that will not harm the door. Go to a hardware store and ask. I understand about 100 yr old houses, Moms is 125 yrs old. Still has these black box things for the old keys.

You said Mom has always done this. The Dementia may just heighten it. Since you were not aware of the change in Mom it may be wise to have her evaluated by a neurologist. He can order lab work to rule out anything physical that would shoe Dementia type symptoms. Once its established that it is Dementia you can go from there. Make a list if things you have seen and give them to the receptionist when you arrive. This will help with what kind of questions he/her needs to ask.

I suggest you get POA while Mom is competent to assign you. It will make the road ahead easier.
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We all try, at the beginning, to justify our LO’s actions based on “reality”, but at some point, we all need to be aware that “reality” is one of the first cognitive skills to change with the onset of dementia.

If a PROFESSIONAL (medical doctor/social worker/ psychologist/psychiatrist......) has SAID she has symptoms of dementia, have that person DOCUMENT IN WRITING the objective symptoms that indicate the basis of that diagnosis.

If that has not been done, ask her medical doctor for a recommendation for that kind of evaluation, then do it.

Her returning or not returning a missing item MAY be meaningful or may not. Until you have OBJECTIVE professional information about her condition, you don’t have enough information to make sound decisions to benefit either one of you.

Threatening actions that may or may not be part of your future seems a little unhelpful for both of you., and having “fits” doesn’t seem to help either of you.

Whenever possible secure things that are really important to you in locked or inaccessible places, and try for your own good to let less important things go, for the time being.

All of us us deal with similar struggles, and all of us can sympathize with your frustration. It will be better when you take steps to get both her and you the help you need.
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She might not be taking your things out of spite or a desire to drive you crazy, rather an undiagnosed mental illness. She might have been shoplifting and taking things from others' homes for a long time without anyone knowing. Can you have her assessed?

I don't think "because she likes them" is at all a helpful assessment of a repeat problem behavior.

Anyway, perhaps seeing this as a mental illness rather than a spiteful act might help it feel less infuriating. And locking up what you can might also be helpful. Lock your bedroom door for example.

Good luck!
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Shell38314 Mar 30, 2019
Thank you for respondIng. I have locked up a lot of my things and try to hide the rest. She has taken small things that don't really matter. But I can't lock up my clothes! I can not put a lock on my bedroom door unfortunately the doors are almost a hundred years old and cannot be replace and then I would have to replace all the doors upstairs.

I think you are right about her taking my things "because she likes them" is a helpful assessment. It is hard for me to think of it as not out of spite because she dislikes me!

She doesn't take anything from my BF--just mine!

Thank you for giving me another way at looking at it.
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Could your mother simply suffer from kleptomania that appeared long before she had dementia?
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Shell38314 Mar 30, 2019
Thank you for responding. You know I never thought about that! Maybe!
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