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Why do people with dementia hide things?

My Grandma keeps hiding things like her glasses and even her dentures and then when she can't find them she thinks someone stole her things. How can we stop this from happening?
Status: Open    Oct 24, 2014 - 01:24 PM


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Oct 26, 2014 - 11:28 AM

I believe, they feel that the things they value most, what they consider absolute necessities, need to be put someplace safe as not to be lost. The problem arises when they need them again, their short term memory loss prevents them from remembering where they put them. Hopefully, for your sake, she starts using the same safe place making it easier for you to help her find them. Good luck. You seem like a very caring granddaughter. Try to be patient. Imagining forgetting 1/2 of the things that happened just yesterday. Not remembering is extremely stressful and can be difficult for caregivers as well as the patient.

This is just my experience with my mom and not obtained from any medical information
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By indyj1s on Jul 16, 2016 - 03:53 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

I just got the TILE, a product that acts as a Gps locator. It is about $25 each, a bit pricy but I feel worthwhile. Another person suggested a clapper type device. Will keep my eyes open for that.

By gloriaaliciamunoz on Jul 23, 2016 - 04:32 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

My mom is 86 and has dementia. She keeps hiding her money, can't remember where it is and starts complaining she doesn't have any. I have her ATM card and accuses me than I'm stealing from her. I find her money and give it to her again and she's happy. It's a never ending story. I do this almost every day. Is it wrong to keep her ATM card from her and to give her the same money over and over again?

By indyj1s on Jul 23, 2016 - 04:43 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

Nope, you are just protecting her from herself. I now have my mother's credit card and IDs. A nurse at the assisted living facility suggested I color copy on stiff paper and have them laminated. I cut corners and just used packing tape. She does not notice the difference. But, I must do a quick song and dance when we pull up to a register and she pulls out her fake card. I would have put the real one into my pocket. Since I had gotten into the habit of having her hand me her wallet, she has not noticed yet. MOm has a $20 in her wallet but rarely thinks to use it. Keep your mom safe and not broke.

By davidkezia7776 on Aug 31, 2016 - 08:09 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

We live near my husband's grandparents. His grandma has dementia. She thinks I stole her jewelry, clothes, an lamps. She recently stole all my jewelry. I confronted the grandfather he was upset at me... He said he would look for my jewelry. I had things from my family. Is there another way to get all my jewelry back without upsetting her an him.

By indyj1s on Aug 31, 2016 - 12:44 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

Yesterday, my mother hid her purse and glasses. Tore apart the apartment twice to no avail. I arrive to her assisted living apartment today and tell her I need to find her purse. She said, I know where it is and walked me right to it. It was on the back side of the bathroom door. Surprise, surprise.

How could she get to your jewelry? Why is the grandfather mad at you? You need to have someone neutral help so no one can accuse anyone of more shenanigans.

Tried to get my mother to relase some of her clothing. She would get mad. But, when I said...maybe if I have something nice to wear I can get a man...she was ready to share regardless of the fact that I am 70 pounds heavier.

Wish you luck. Does she have another caregiver? Whatever is found needs to be handled as a negotiation. She keeps hers and you keep yours.

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Nov 16, 2014 - 03:27 PM

My own experience with my 86 yr mom before she hides anything I try to remove them from her and put it where I can find it and when she ask for them I tell her I put it up in a safe place and I bring it out and show it to her so she doesn't think it's lost then she has confident in me to take care of her stuff so now she trust me and will tell me to put away things she would have picked it up and hide it from herself. Now everybody is happy and nothing gets lost here. We have to have patience and understanding and let them feel they can trust you.

Nov 16, 2014 - 04:07 PM

Imagine yourself with very few personal possessions after living a long successful life.
In the past, you would put something down when you were finished using it. When you needed it again, you pick it up just where you left it.
The patient with dementia lives in the life style of survival. Nothing is ever the same. When man or woman wakes up from sleep or a blip in the cognitive memory, their surroundings are rarely what they expect. Teeth, eyeglasses, a purse to hold treasures, are seen as a connection to a world that makes sense. When those are the only possessions one recognizes, it makes sense to put them somewhere to prevent "someone" from picking them up and taking them away to a place, never to be used again.

Nov 16, 2014 - 08:37 PM

An anti-anxiety medication may give your grandma some much-needed calm. I also keep a supply of reading glasses on hand, so that when Mom "loses" her glasses, I can give her a pair and tell her I found them while I am looking for hers so that she trusts me to help her. The anti-anxiety medication is wonderful for her peace of mind. Her doctor gave her Celexa, which helps calm her enough that she doesn't feel helpless with the need to find someone else to blame. I just keep telling her that her lost item is here somewhere and set to looking for it with her. Then, of course, I make note of her hiding places.


Sep 13, 2015 - 08:18 AM

My husband has sundowners and begins hiding his things in the evening. He says he is hiding them from people who will break in and take them. It doesn't help to tell him that the things he's hiding ( belt, old flip phone, empty wallet) wouldn't be wanted by anyone. He locks and unlocks up to 40 times each evening.

Since he started hiding things in the evening and sometimes during the day now, I found it helps to help him get ready for bed or hide his things for him. Now he will often bring his things to me and I give them to him the next morning. This has helped a bit but not always. It's still a struggle to deal with the paranoia, suspiciousness and confusion.

Sep 13, 2015 - 12:34 PM

I found a lot of wonderful information in books, articles and videos by Naomi Feil about her technique called Validation. From this website: [LINK NOT ALLOWED]
Example: Your 92-year-old mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer's Dementia. She hides her picture albums, her scrapbooks, and her wedding ring, and then she accuses you of throwing her precious things away. When you find her ring and her pictures, she turns her back on you and walks away, muttering "How do you know where they were? You got them out of the garbage can where you threw them." Should you: Convince your mother that she hid her things herself. Show her where you found her things. Assure her that you do not need her things. You have your own wedding ring. No. Your mother will argue with you because on an unconscious level of awareness, she knows you are right. She hid her precious things in the middle of the night herself, but she cannot admit it. She cannot be honest with herself. She never was. She hid her things on purpose to express her feelings of loss. Her picture albums, her scrapbooks, and her wedding ring symbolize her losses: her youth, her husband, her sexuality. She feels as if she is being thrown in the garbage. She accuses other people of robbing her because she cannot be responsible for what has happened to her. She yells at the world to relieve her anger at being robbed of her youth. When no-one listens, her accusations increase. Use the "Therapeutic lie." Agree with her. e.g., Yes, you stole her wedding ring and picture album, but now you are returning them. She doesn't have to worry. You won't steal them again. No. Your mother will be quiet for a moment, but she will not trust you. Deep down, she knows you are lying, patronizing her to keep her quiet. The next night, she will hide her things again. She needs to vent her feelings at being robbed, but no one hears. Help her express her rage. Empathize with her fear of aging, dependence, loneliness, and death. Understand that her possessions are symbols of her youth. Use these Validation techniques: Rephrase: e.g., "Your wedding ring is gone, and you say I have stolen it?" Use the visual sense: e.g., "That was that beautiful white gold wedding ring with the date of your marriage engraved on the inside." Reminisce: e.g., "How old were you when you were married, Mom. How old was Dad. How did you meet him?" If you genuinely listen to her, empathizing, she will tell you how much she has lost. If you use these techniques every day, for about ten minutes, after about three weeks, her grief will lessen. She will stop hiding her possessions as much. She is not cured. You can't cure aging. It's too late to give her insight. She will not face her fears directly. But now she will feel less fearful and safe with you, because she trusts you because you listened and understood.


Sep 15, 2015 - 09:34 AM

I don't think she is "hiding" them. She probably thinks she is putting them in a safe place.
Problem is she forgets where that safe place is. I do this sometime as well. I put something away and then for the life of me I can not remember where I put my "important" thing.
Can you get a special box for her to put her "valuable" things in? This way there is a slightly beter chance that they will be easier to find.
If she is taking the dentures out and placing them someplace other than the bathroom or bedroom is it possible that they are not fitting properly and that they are bothering her?
If she can also use reader glasses rather than prescription glasses get a bunch of them to place around so she can have one in each room. At least that way like a squirrel hiding nuts you will be sure to stumble on at least one pair while looking.

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By naturelover4 on Jun 28, 2016 - 12:52 PM | Like (0)  |  Report

My mom IS hiding her things. She tells me she's hiding them - afraid someone will steal them. She changes the hiding places all the time and then can't remember where things are. She doesn't trust anyone. It's very sad to see these changes in my mother. She is 92.

By gloriaaliciamunoz on Aug 31, 2016 - 09:16 AM | Like (0)  |  Report

My mom hides money and tells me off that she doesn't have not even a penny on her. She demands to withdraw all her RSDI check from her bank account and for me to pay all her bills. When I don't give in to her she accuses me of stealing from her. I have power of attorney. I have lost my patience. What do yall recommend?

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