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Alzheimer's Dementia - How To Avoid Getting Arrested

Updated on December 20, 2014
lrc7815 profile image

Linda lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. She lost her father to Alzheimer's disease in 2015.

Alzheimer's disease is more than a health concern. Your loved one could actually be arrested by the police. Let's talk about how you can avoid the stress and embarrassment of an arrest.

The dementia that is associated with Alzheimer's disease can cause significant legal problems for your family. Your loved one who has Alzheimer's may still be quite functional but underneath the surface is a problem waiting for an opportunity.

You won't notice it at first. In fact, you'll explain it away as one of those things that you just can't explain. But you won't worry about it. It manifests with foreign objects appearing in your home or vehicle that you've never seen before. Maybe you found a pair of sunglasses in your car. Or perhaps a pair of gloves appeared on your dining room table. You ask around but no one seems to know anything.

If you're lucky, your intuition will kick in before you have to deal with an arrest. That's right. Some people with Alzheimer's begin to pick up things that don't belong to them. They slip them in a pocket without conscious thought and suddenly the stolen items are in your home or car. It's a shocking moment, when you realize your loved one has become a thief.

What Can You Do?

Obviously you can't return the items to their owner because you have no idea where they came from. And you probably already have your hands more than full just trying to get through the day. You can't fix what has happened but there is something you can do to protect your loved one when the time comes and they get caught. And they will get caught.

As Alzheimer's progresses, your loved one may lose their capacity for reasoning. They won't be aware that it's not okay to pick something up in a store and put it in their pocket. The behavior is almost squirrel-like and honestly, your loved one doesn't have a clue they are doing it. When the store camera catches them and the police or security staff descend on you, your loved one will be just as bewildered as you are.

Head for your physician's office!

Don't wait until there is a problem. Do this now.

  • Ask your physician for a letter stating that your loved one has Alzheimer's and may pick up things that don't belong to them.
  • Carry it with you everywhere you go.
  • When a problem arises, show the letter to the authorities.

It's been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That was never more true than when you are dealing with Alzheimer's disease. You have an opportunity to head off a problem before it begins. Do it now and, save yourself from the worry and protect your loved one from the humiliation of being treated like a thief.


Understanding Alzheimer's

To garner a little understanding of Alzheimer's dementia, it is helpful to understand the basics of the human brain.

Although a complicated network of components, the brain has three primary components.

  • The cerebrum is the largest component of the brain and takes up most of the space in the head. It controls memory, movement, and the ability to solve problems.
  • The cerebellum is located at the back of the brain. It controls balance and coordination
  • The brain stem sits in the lower back of the head and is the life center of the brain. Connected to the spinal cord, it controls breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion.

In order to function properly, the brain needs oxygen which is carried to the brain by a complex network of blood vessels. The surface of the brain, the cortex, is a road map to the everything we do, from interpreting sight and sounds to storing memories. It also is the center for making plans, solving problems, and, for involuntary movement.

The serious work of the brain takes place in it's more than 100 billion individual nerve cells called neurons that carry the signals through the neurons to form thoughts, feelings and, memories.

Alzheimer's disease targets and destroys the neurons, resulting in progressive loss of the ability to think, feel, and remember.

The result is someone who no longer has the capacity to think about taking something that doesn't belong to them. They are no longer able to feel the guilt of taking something that doesn't belong to them. And, when asked, are unable to remember taking something that doesn't belong to them. It's a perfect recipe for an arrest.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

Please, take 2 minutes and watch this short explanation of Alzheimer's.


Submit a Comment

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi TToombbso8, thanks so much for reading. I'm happy you don't have to deal with this too. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. I appreciate the vote up and share too!

  • TToombs08 profile image

    Terrye Toombs 

    6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

    I am so glad I don't have to deal with these issues. My heart goes out to the folks that do. Voted up and shared.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jackie! I appreciate your reading and sharing about your mom. It's a tough task, I know. As for the problem of picking up things, I don't think there is any thought involved. It's just a spontaneous act with severe consequences. I'm glad you never had to worry about it.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 

    6 years ago from The Beautiful South

    I took care of my mom with Alzheimer's but thank God did not have to face this problem. They are like children though so I can see the temptation to them. Thanks for sharing.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Pamela99. Thanks for stopping by this morning. This is a real problem. The example I used (sunglasses and gloves) were not fiction. We started finding these things in the craziest of places and long after you might be able to retrace your steps. Now, we carry the letter and, we keep a very close eye on my Dad when we go out. My pre-Alzheimer's Dad would me mortified at the behavior.

  • lrc7815 profile imageAUTHOR

    Linda Crist 

    6 years ago from Central Virginia

    Thanks RTalloni. This was advice given to my family and with all the research I've done, I rarely see it discussed. I hope that by sharing it, some family will be proactive and not have to face an arrest.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    6 years ago from Sunny Florida

    I did not realize this was a problem for Alzheimer patients. I think your advice is the only answer to ensure your loved one won't end up in jail or certainly in an embarrassing situation. This is a very useful hub.

  • RTalloni profile image


    6 years ago from the short journey

    What a great tip for family members of functional Alzheimer's patients. This will be invaluable to them.


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