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Why Do Dementia Patients Hide Things?

Whether you are new to caring for someone with dementia or not, it is fairly well known or will quickly become apparent that they have unique tendencies and behaviors. For many, there is a reasonable explanation, but not for all of them. Hiding things is a common behavior for dementia patients and in this blog post we will explain more about why that behavior exists and what you can and should do to help. 

The Why Behind the Behavior

Understanding the “why” is the essential first step in treating or handling any dementia behavior. When we understand why the behavior is presenting, we can treat the root of the problem. Hiding items is usually done in an effort to gain control. Hiding something could help them feel as though they know where the item is located for when they need to find it again. Hiding might also be because the person thinks someone is stealing from them. This could be due to forgetting where something is and assuming it must have been stolen. Hiding could also overlap with hoarding behaviors. Dementia patients sometimes feel the need to stockpile things. 

How You Can Help

Once you have pinned down the reason for the behavior, you can make a plan of action. If the hiding is coming from a need to know exactly where items are located you could consider labeling bins and placing them in easy to see areas in the house. If hiding is causing an issue with them forgetting where they hid the item you could look into a locator device to attach onto the item they are consistently hiding. Make copies of important items if you are worried about them hiding or hoarding the item and not remembering where it is. 

The following are some general ideas of how to help with hiding behaviors:

  • Always keep things in the same designated spot.
  • Put things in places that make sense to the one with dementia. 
  • Use visual clues around the house for everyday items. 

As with most things when it comes to managing dementia symptoms, it is wise to pick your battles. If the items they are hiding are not important and the behavior isn’t hurting anyone, it’s probably fine to let it go, especially if hiding behaviors are helping them feel better and manage their memory loss. 

If the person has hidden something that you need to relocate, start by considering their routine. Where and when did you last see it and where and what was that person doing at the time? Get inside their head and try to think and see things the way that they might. 

How The Gables can Help

The immense time, attention and emotional burden that is required in caring for someone with dementia is not understood by anyone except those who have experienced it firsthand. There should be no guilt or shame in seeking additional help. 

Memory Care is an Option

The Gables has multiple memory care facilities throughout Utah and Idaho. Our memory care centers are catered to the needs of those with dementia. Our staff is trained, and our facilities are specially designed to manage behaviors, such as hiding, in a professional, calm and reasonable manner. 

Dementia Caregivers

If you are the caregiver of someone with dementia, our site also provides information on other caregiver resources. This blog can be a great asset as well. Ultimately, The Gables will be here to help you in caring for your loved ones however you need us to.

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