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What to Do When a Loved One With Alzheimer's Rummages or Hides Things

Rummaging/Hiding Things

Safety recommendations to reduce the chances of people with Alzheimer's rummaging or hiding things include:
  • Lock up all dangerous or toxic products, or place them out of the person's reach.
  • Remove all old or spoiled food from the refrigerator and cupboards. A person with Alzheimer's disease may rummage for snacks but may lack the judgment or taste to rule out spoiled foods.
  • Simplify the environment by removing clutter or valuable items that could be misplaced, lost, or hidden by the person with Alzheimer's disease. These include important papers, checkbooks, charge cards, and jewelry.
  • If your yard has a fence with a locked gate, place the mailbox outside the gate. People with Alzheimer's disease often hide, lose, or throw away mail. If this is a serious problem, consider obtaining a post office box.
  • Create a special place for the person with Alzheimer's disease to rummage freely or sort (for example, a chest of drawers, a bag of selected objects, or a basket of clothing to fold or unfold). Often, safety problems occur when the person with Alzheimer's disease becomes bored or does not know what to do.
  • Provide the person with Alzheimer's disease a safe box, treasure chest, or cupboard to store special objects.
  • Close access to unused rooms, thereby limiting the opportunity for rummaging and hiding things.
  • Search the house periodically to discover hiding places. Once found, these hiding places can be discreetly and frequently checked.
  • Keep all trash cans covered or out of sight. The person with Alzheimer's disease may not remember the purpose of the container or may rummage through it.
  • Check trash containers them before emptying them in case something has been hidden there or accidentally thrown away.
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