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Grandma with early dementia? - people 'stealing things'

(6 Posts)
MediumOrchid Mon 20-Dec-10 12:21:47

My Grandma is living in an assisted living place, where whe has her own rooms but the home provide lunch and dinner for them. In general she is very happy there. However, over the last year or so she has become convinced that people are stealing from her. The types of things that she thinks have been stolen are: jewellery, a jacket, pants, coathangers, pantyliners, nail files, sausages, etc. There have been lots more that I can't remember. Mostly things no-one would ever steal - who would want an old lady's pants?! My parents go down to see her every few weeks and almost always end up finding the thing that has been stolen. One time (when the pants were missing) they found about 20 pairs of pants in a case in the bottom of her wardrobe - she'd clearly been hiding them there.

In the previous place she lived she was convinced it was the cleaner stealing from her - it all got quite unpleasant. We're not quite sure who she thinks is stealing from her now as she seems to like her cleaners here.

Anyway - what can we do about this? We're pretty sure it's the beginning of dementia - she is in her 90s. Should we sit her down and tell her we think this? She won't like hearing it! Or just keep trying to reassure her each time she loses something? Has anyone else had any similar experiences?

BecauseItoldYouSo Mon 20-Dec-10 12:24:58

Get a proper dementia assessment done. My Grandmother just passed a couple days ago and had dementia (Alzheimer's).

It started with forgetting things, then the stealing thing happened, then forgetting chunks of life, then forgetting EVERYTHING and EVERYONE, and then reverting to a 'baby-like' state.

It is a horrible, awful disease.

AMumInScotland Mon 20-Dec-10 12:36:47

It does sound like dementia - people with it often hide or hoard things, in an effort to "keep them safe", or keep control of their lives, then forget they've done it and believe that someone must have stolen them. They can work out quite elaborate plots in their mind to cover the gaps in their memory - it might seem like nonsense for the cleaner to have stolen her pants, but if she "knows" where she left them, and no-one except the cleaner has been in, then its obviously the cleaner stealing them, in her mind.

You need to talk to the people who run the home to discuss how best to get her assessed - they may have their own doctor who visits, or you may need to involve her own GP. In the longer term, you may also need to make plans for where she lives - if this place doesn't deal with dementia, she may need to move somewhere which can help her better and keep her safe.

AMumInScotland Mon 20-Dec-10 12:40:16

Oh and sorry you're going through this. Dementia is a total bitch to have to cope with in a loved one, as you have to deal with the practicalities and their unhappiness, while gradually losing someone you care about. Do look at websites for support organisations both for practicalities and to know you're not alone with it.

MediumOrchid Wed 05-Jan-11 13:12:50

Thanks for the advice (and sorry for not coming back sooner - I forgot I started this thread!) I think at some point we will have to get an assessment done. Her home don't take people with dementia though so at some point I suppose she's going to have to move.

Sorry for everyone who has known/lost people with Alzheimer's - my aunt had something similar and it is pretty horrible towards the end.

coldtits Wed 05-Jan-11 13:15:57

This is really hard to deal with - how about a sticky label on her drawer where her pants go, plus count them, and put the number on the label. Then she can check for herself when any are missing (to be utterly honest, I'd undercount by 2 to allow for those in the wash)

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