Behaviour changes

9. Hiding, hoarding and losing things

A person with dementia may hide, hoard or lose items. This can be very frustrating for carers who may have to spend time finding the items or trying to find out from the person where the objects are. Hiding and hoarding may be an attempt by the person to remain in control of their situation. The person may also be experiencing paranoia or delusions and believe their items will get stolen, meaning they may try to hide or protect them. 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 the person's hiding places so that you can tactfully help find 'missing' items.
  • If the person becomes anxious about lost items, try to reassure them and support their emotional needs.
  • Don't leave important documents 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. For more information on assistive technology see factsheet 437, Assistive technology - devices to help with everyday living.
  • If the person hides food or other perishable goods, check hiding places regularly, and discreetly dispose of any perishable items.