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Monday, February 18, 2013

Losing or Misplacing Items Around the House

Misplacing it is the easy part!
Lately I have been thinking about memory, and losing or misplacing items around the house. A couple incidents happened to me recently which brought it to my attention. Nothing really serious, but far enough out-of-the-ordinary for me to notice.

I am not talking about losing my car keys. I try to keep them in the same place, so I rarely ever have to go hunting for them. No. The other evening I could not find the remote control for the TV. Panic! I searched all over the house, upstairs and down. I tried to retrace my steps, looking in all the places I had been. It took me about a half hour to finally locate my remote control. It was sitting in a cast-iron frying pan on the stove. Actually it was right next to the kitchen stove, not on the burner, but close enough.

I had no memory whatsoever of picking it up, carrying it into the kitchen, or setting it in the frying pan. It was kinda funny when I finally found it there, and it was kinda upsetting at the same time. It felt completely different than it does when I misplace my coffee cup.

Within a few days of misplacing the remote control, I misplaced a credit card payment. I know it isn't exactly the same as misplacing an item around the house, but it felt like it was the same. I received a notice that my credit card payment was past due, and I was certain that I had payed both of them on-time as usual. I checked my bank statement, and sure enough both payments were there. I called the credit card company, and after talking to a real person for a while it became apparent what happened. I paid the small payment to the large amount, and the larger payment to the smaller amount. Criss-cross!

Other than losing a bill occasionally, or more likely having my stoner-mailman deliver it to the wrong address, I have never done anything like this before. I have a pretty good system for paying my bills. I keep them all in the same place, and pay online once a month. My budget is so tight that it is easy to keep track of the payments. I keep forgetting to pay the water bill, but I have to do that in person, so it falls outside of my routine. Routine is everything.

I try to put everything back in its place after I have finished with it. It is a work-around. I never really remember where I put things, but I know where to start looking when I put things away. When something is in the wrong place I know it is a symptom.

About a week or so later something else happened. It doesn't really fit into losing or misplacing things, but rather getting lost. I was driving, having just left a thrift store located in a nearby small town. I had been there many times, and was very familiar with the streets. My friend and I were talking, and all of a sudden I looked around, and had no idea where we were. Nothing looked familiar.  I had been distracted by our conversation, and missed my turn. The thing is that it did not feel like a symptom. It was funny, and we both laughed about it as we figured out the easiest way to get back on-track. Maybe the fact that I am more easily distracted is a symptom, but missing my turn at the stop sign felt pretty normal. My friend said at the time that when I think something is a symptom my voice changes. I have some awareness, or a feeling, when something is a symptom, and when it is just a normal screw-up. I have no way to tell if the feeling is valid, but it exists.

I did a little looking online for some information on misplacing things, and dementia. It is a more common symptom with Alzheimer's than with bvFTD, or so it seems. Of course there is overlap, and every case is different. At least I did not try to blame someone else for putting the remote in the frying pan, and I do not do it frequently. To my credit I did not fry it up, and serve it on toast or anything.

The following is from the DementiaGuide website. They list the following symptoms as being indicative of possible dementia, and I must admit that my behavior falls under some of these descriptions.

 Misplacing or Losing Objects:

    Frequently misplaces common items (e.g. glasses, brush, TV remote, keys)
    Frequently misplaces important items or documents (e.g. money, bills, identification)
    Wanders off with items and leaves them in uncommon places
    Can remember using something but can't remember where they put it
    Puts an item away for safekeeping, then can't relocate the item
    Notices something is not in its place and wonders where it went (e.g. a vase, a clock)
    Can't remember where things go (e.g. their proper place)
    Puts things away in the wrong place
    Puts things away in an odd place (e.g. eyeglasses in the freezer)
    Always looking for something
    Takes longer to locate missing items
    Needs help from others to find missing items
    Forgets what is lost while they are looking for the item
    Hides or hoards items

Misplacing or Losing Objects -a General Description

The neurological pathways that allow healthy people to remember what is lost while we look for something are complex. We must be able to hold an image of what we are trying to locate and why. We must also remember far enough into the past to have the idea of the last time we used it or where we put it. People with memory problems find this difficult. That is because some neurological pathways are damaged, causing trouble remembering the past, or having some sense of the sequence by which past events occurred. The person you care for may be able to remember using an item, but can no longer find that item. They may have forgotten where they put it, put it in an odd place by accident or have hidden it so that no one else can find it. As a result, they may require assistance locating the item. They also may need to be reminded of where the proper place for the item is located. When unable to find an item, they may believe that someone has purposely stolen or hidden it, which may lead to feelings of anger or frustration. Sometimes the person you care for may continuously and compulsively search for an item which they believe to be missing, which may not even exist.

Misplacing objects is of course also very common as people age, and some have well established, life-long histories of losing things. Often, with such people, what is different is that they have no idea where an object might be and no idea of how to efficiently go about finding it. Misplacing objects can also be a problem if it is coupled with suspiciousness, which is also common in Alzheimer's disease. Suspiciousness and misplacing can come together in a few ways to be a difficult problem. One is when the person with dementia has suspects that people might be stealing from them, and therefore hides valuable items, but can no longer remember where the item is hidden. Even worse, they may come to suspect that the item has been stolen, in that sense justifying their fears. Lacking a reasoned search strategy, they might believe that they have searched exhaustively when instead they have simply repeated a failed strategy many times. Even so they will feel suspicion and might even experience the frustration of losing and searching.

Another type of "misplacing" problem is commonly seen in the late mild to early moderate stage of dementia, especially Alzheimer's disease. This is when the person with dementia misplaces common household objects, commonly putting them in odd places. Often this happens with kitchen items, especially the dishes.

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