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Theft... missing items
Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 7:27 AM
Joined: 6/24/2012
Posts: 561

I have seen a few postings recently about theft and missing items... So I wanted to share a 'story' from my experiences with mom.  Mom has actually lost many items these past few years, including her partial dentures.  Really.   And even those, she insisted that someone had stolen them from her. (And we never did find them)  I did, at one point ask her... why would they steal your teeth?  And of course the reason didn't matter... they just 'stole' them was her answer.  

But here is the story that goes down in the annals of my history with mom.   Suddenly and without a trace... her wedding rings disappeared.  Now, mom loses stuff all the time.  But she never takes her rings off unless she is in the hospital.  And in place of the wedding rings was another 'glass' ring that 'someone' gave her.  We looked in every place imaginable.  Crevices, pockets, the freezer, shoes, socks, make up cases... And we (me, my husband, her companion) looked repeatedly... like every time we visited over a period of about six months. We did ask if anything was turned in at the facility.   Always, we were hopeful that the rings would show up.  But they never did.... almost.  But I had given into the idea that maybe someone... even another resident... had swindled her out of the rings and I was sad about that.  Sad that I had let that happen by not insisting that the rings be taken away from her... but they were her rings to lose... not mine.  I have no attachment to her stuff.  But I felt somewhat responsible for them going missing.

Eighteen months later.... I was still doing mom's laundry.  She hangs is up so I have to give everything the sniff test and look to see what needs to be laundered.  She was not in the room and I was doing this 'stealth' because she refused my help with laundry.  She has a small hamper ... nothing ever inside of it... but this day there was a washrag in it.  I picked it up to add it to the dirty laundry and voila.... there were the wedding rings.... I was elated and also amazed.  

The back story to this is that several years ago my mom's sister passed away and she had hidden some jewelry in a handkerchief at the bottom of her hamper.  But mom's hamper had been around and empty all during the 18 months of searching... So somehow she had been moving the 'hiding' place for all that time (or forgetting it) and that day they were moved to a washrag inside her hamper.   They are now in a safe deposit box.  

You simply can't make this stuff up.  It's just amazing to think about what was going on inside her brain.  So the message here is... we never really know what is going on in their brains and we just have to take it one day at a time.  

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 7:46 AM
Joined: 4/3/2019
Posts: 257

Abuela, Really good point.  One of the first indications that something was going on with my Mom was when she called me in hysterics saying she lost a "valuable diamond necklace" . . . . the next several days I got multiple calls and texts where she was on the verge of tears, angry, frustrated, upset, as I helped her try and look for it from afar.  (I basically just suggested places it might be, that's all I could do from 1,000 miles away).  

Then she was quiet about it for a day or two, and I was busy with work.  I checked back in with her and she said, "Oh I found it"-  I was seriously frustrated, like after all the hysteria, including accusing someone of having stolen it, why wouldn't she let me know that she found it?  

Turned out it was in her car- again, a bit puzzling- I wasn't clear on what happened- did she go to some gathering and then take off the necklace on the way home? I just had to let it go and tell her I was glad she found the necklace.  We don't know what's going in their minds.  

Eric L
Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 10:36 AM
Joined: 12/5/2014
Posts: 1291

After about the 3rd or 4th time that MIL freaked out about losing her rings, we put them in the safe. If she asked about them, we told her that they were locked in the safe. In her case, it seemed to comfort her to know that they were safe. Eventually, she forgot about them.

(edited to add this story).. So this is back in the 80s. Dementia care is about 1000x times better now than it was back then. My grandpa was kicked out of a facility because he accused the nurse of stealing his teeth (he had dentures) and threw a fire extinguisher at one of the workers. My Mom (his daughter in law) still thinks that staff taunted him and made the situation worse. After going through this stuff with my MIL, I'm not sure about that, but it was an isolated incident and he had zero issues at the next place. I suspect that it was a combination of the typical issues that most of us deal with on a daily basis (pretty sure no one stole his teeth) and a lack of understanding of how to deal with dementia patients.
Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 12:06 PM
Joined: 11/13/2018
Posts: 150

Same here with DW hoarding and loosing things for the past several years. She is now in MC for the past 7 months.

While packing some her "stuff" to send to Good Will, I found a stack of money in one dresser draw. 

 While it is nice to find $3500 that I didn't know she had stored away, now I have to slow down and check every thing before giving it away.

Found her wedding ring she had missed place, that was also in a drawer.

Who knows what else will be found.

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 12:35 PM
Joined: 6/5/2014
Posts: 1508

Certainly some of the stuff we will never find. I was told often to check "depression era" hiding places: under drawers and on the insides & undersides of dressers and bureaus. I never found any wads of cash, but just about everything else that ever passed through her hands....twisty ties, rubber bands, paper clips, tiny containers of all descriptions, holiday cards, postcards, little soap & shampoo bottles from every hotel she ever stayed in, and you never saw so much of that waxy paper they pack new clothes in.
Rescue mom
Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 2:31 PM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 1519

My mom was the executor for two “old maid aunts,” who we thought were penniless. In clearing out their home, my mom found literally thousands of dollars, in cash in books, under rugs on the floor, under drawers, inside decorative vases, etc etc etc. Depression-era hiding places is absolutely on target. She often said she probably missed so much, before she realized what they did.

Lesson learned? My mom was also an extreme hoarder of paper/documents. You’d think she learned from those aunts. What she learned was to squirrel stuff away like they did. I had dozens, maybe 100s, of storage boxes/crates of papers, and had to go though piece by piece, finding stocks, financial documents, rare paper money, and plain old cash.

(All the things she said were stolen in her facility were located pretty quickly).

People, if you care about your kids, don’t do this!!!

Posted: Wednesday, December 4, 2019 8:50 PM
Joined: 12/14/2017
Posts: 1728

That's a great story...I would not have been able to hold back from her that I found them...I am stupid sometimes..I'm impressed you put them in a safe deposit box..truly...Good for you...glad you found them....she must have had the idea one day that she was supposed to do what her sister did with them...hmmmm.

Yes, one day at a time..for sure.



Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2019 1:34 PM
Joined: 12/5/2019
Posts: 1

My fathers father had alziemiers and we have been thinking that my 77 year old father was getting forgetful.   We thought it was more just typical 77 year old dementia.   But this week he accused me of stealing his $$. And has totally lost it.  Our entire family is a mess.  I am so mad and hurt, but I keep thinking if it’s dementia how can I be so mad.  How do I handle this?
Dave Cahail
Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2019 8:08 PM
Joined: 6/24/2018
Posts: 41

When I read your post, I automatically thought of my mother. She has so many of the same traits. 

We also noticed her losing things when she was still at home. First it resulted in her writing down things to remember but then losing those lists and notes. Then she started telling us that she was hiding money around the house - so yes, we too are going to have to go through everything. Then she started accusing the in home helper of taking things or not doing things to my mother's standards (which weren't that high to begin with). 

Now that she has been in assisted living / memory care for the past two years, she is also starting to accuse people of stealing her clothes (she has bought a lot of clothes and can't remember what she bought), food that she has in her room (which she forgets about and rots), her watch (which the MC staff found on her bathroom counter), and many other things. She just doesn't remember what she has or what she did with it. 

I usually try to be empathetic and just acknowledge what ever she says including how awful that is, maybe ask her a few questions about where she last had it and to look in specific places, and then deflect to another topic. In the majority of cases, she or others have found what she accused people of 'taking'.

It is hard to deal with but in the big picture, we just need to try to ally their fears and also realize in most cases, its just stuff that can be replaced if necessary. 

Posted: Saturday, December 7, 2019 10:10 AM
Joined: 2/16/2018
Posts: 205

Abuela, your post reminded me of a story a member of my support group told us recently.  Sherry is caregiver in her home for her Mom with Dementia.  Sometimes, the facilitator asks us to share a funny event if we wish.  This is what she shared.  Sherry was in the habit of removing her wedding rings and putting them in a little dish by the sink whenever she washed dishes, showered Mom, did heavy cleaning, etc.  This one evening, when all the chores were done and Sherry went to put her rings on....they were gone.  Sherry was in a panic and didn't know quite how to tell her husband she had lost her rings.  They (Sherry & Mom) searched the house high and low but no trace of the rings.  Next day while husband was at work, Sherry's neighbor took the sink and garbage disposal apart assuming the rings had just accidentally been knocked into the sink.  No luck.  A few days later, Sherry was taking Mom to the store, when she glanced in her rear view mirror, distracted by a little flash of light, and there was Mom in the back seat admiring her newly acquired rings.  Sherry said she almost ran off the road.
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