Hoarding all kinds of things is a serious symptom of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The dementia sufferer will hide items all around the house and then start looking for them. The problem is their memory is shot and they don’t remember where they put the items.
Indeed, it is not unusual for someone with Alzheimer’s or any type of dementia to start searching through cabinets, drawers, closets, the refrigerator, and other places where things are stored. He or she also will hide items around the house. Although it can be dangerous, there are ways to allow the person to participate in this behavior safely.
Hoarding: Finding Objects Safely By Alzheimer’s Sufferers
One safety option is to create a special place where the person with Alzheimer’s can rummage freely or sort things. This could be a chest of drawers, a bag of objects, or a basket of clothing to fold or unfold. Give him or her a personal box, chest, or cupboard to store special objects. You may have to remind the person where to find his or her personal storage place.
Here are some other ways you can keep a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s safe while rummaging or hiding things:
- Keep the person with Alzheimer’s from going into unused rooms. This limits his or her rummaging through and hiding things.
- Search the house to learn where the person often hides things. Once you find these places, check them often, out of sight of the person.
- Keep all trash cans covered or out of sight. People with Alzheimer’s may not remember the purpose of the container or may rummage through it.
- Check trash containers before you empty them, in case something has been hidden there or thrown away by accident.
Hoarding: Safety Proof Your Home
You can take steps that allow the person with Alzheimer’s to rummage while protecting your belongings and keeping the person safe. Try these tips:
- Lock up dangerous or toxic products.
- Remove spoiled food from the refrigerator and cabinets. Someone with Alzheimer’s may look for snacks but lack the judgment or sense of taste to stay away from spoiled foods.
- Remove valuable items that could be misplaced or hidden by the person, like important papers, checkbooks, charge cards, jewelry, cell phones, and keys.
- People with Alzheimer’s often hide, lose, or throw away mail. If this is a serious problem, consider getting a post office box. If you have a yard with a fence and a locked gate, place your mailbox outside the gate.