Hiding, hoarding and losing things

A person with dementia may hide things, store them for a long time, or lose them.

This can be very frustrating if you have to spend time finding things or trying to find out from the person where they are. It can be frustrating and distressing for the person as well, as they may think someone is taking things from them. Hiding and hoarding may be an attempt by the person to have some control of their situation. The person may also feel paranoid or have delusions and believe their things will get stolen, so they may try to hide or protect them.

A person with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (FTD) may be more likely to hoard.

Want to know more about frontotemporal dementia?

Read more about frontotemporal dementia (FTD)

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Losing things may be the result of the person forgetting where they have put them, especially if they have already put them in an unusual place.

Hiding, hoarding and losing things – tips for carers

  • Consider a hoarding box or drawer where the person can put objects they want to keep safe.
  • Try to work out where the person seems to hide things, then show the person you’re helping them to find them.
  • If the person becomes anxious about lost items, try to reassure them and help them feel better.
  • Don’t leave important documents or items lying around.
  • Keep a spare set of things that are often lost, such as keys or glasses.
  • Consider assistive technology (such as a locator device) to help people find objects.
  • If the person hides food or other perishable things, check their ‘hiding places’ regularly, and throw out things that have gone bad.
Assistive technology to help with losing things

There are many devices that can help with everyday living, including hiding, hoarding or losing things. 

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