Q: My mother is always losing, hiding and hoarding things, I am losing my mind! What can I do to get her to stop?
A: This is a great question and I have a lot of material to work with.
My grand mother had made me the most beautiful doilies. One resident in my adult family home insisted that they were the ones she had made and took them when I wasn't looking. I would put her in bed at night only to find my doilies hidden in her diaper.
After dinner one evening we discovered a client's $3000.00 dollar pair of hearing aids wrapped up in a nice little napkin and stuffed in her drinking cup.
Some residents would go through others belongings, when I would suggest that they stop because the purse belonged to someone else, they would reply, "I know that" and would continue digging.
The weirdest experience I had was a resident who liked to clothes shop so much that she would go shopping in other peoples closets.
Invariably, just when you need something, it has disappeared, whether it's your doilies, car keys, glasses, or hearing aids. Hiding, hoarding and losing things are very common things you have to deal with when you are caring for a person with Alzheimer's.
To cut down on the prospect of losing very important things, here is a list of things to do to help you.
1. Simplify your surroundings. You would be amazed at how much easier it is to care for a person with Alzheimer's if you aren't surrounded by clutter. If you lose something, you will have less to sort through to find it.
2. Keep really important things in a locked and secure place.
3. Childproof your cabinets and doors that you don't want your loved one rummaging through.
4. Don't leave things lying around.
5. Keep your loved ones glasses, hearing aids, and teeth in a plastic container or tub when you put them to bed at night. That way you will always know where they are in the morning.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind.
1. People with Alzheimer's like to put their teeth and hearing aids in their napkins at meal time. Always check napkins before throwing them into the trash.
2. Check their wastebaskets before you throw out the trash.
3. Check their pockets before doing the laundry-if they haven't put something of value in them, I can almost guarantee that there is a Kleenex in them, a load of laundry washed with a Kleenex is the not very fun.
4. If a person with Alzheimer's is a wanderer you will want to check the sides of their chairs frequently also.
While you may not be able to stop this behavior all together you might be able to control it a bit better with these tips.
Renee "Dutchy" Reeves is an Elder Care Consultant with over 10 years of working with the elderly and their families. Her online advice column, "Ask Dutchy" provides practical ideas and advice for assisting the elderly with Alzheimer's disease, Dementia, Parkinson's, disability, and those needing long term care.