December 3, 2016 – Just like other important things in our lives that disappear with Alzheimer’s, and other types of dementia-related diseases, decisions about right and wrong vanish as if they were lacy clouds on a windy afternoon.

Even though mom and dad taught their young ones it was wrong to take something that didn’t belong to you, the idea quickly becomes a concept least understood as the brain dismisses other learned values over years of any one of the mind diseases. There are times when an Alzheimer’s patient is about on the same level as a three-year-old who takes something because he/she either wants it or believes it is his. Not like a major theft which takes planning and preparation, but a spontaneous reaction to what might be done in his own home.


If the mailman came before I could get it from the box, Ken grabbed it and took it inside where he studied each envelope, contents and ad. He then folded what he believed to be important, and put it in his shirt pocket until he decided where to hide it from me.


One day we were visiting friends who had just purchased a new home near the Delta area of San Francisco’s Bay. The four of us enjoyed a lovely dinner provided by our hostess, and then adjourned to the living room for further conversation. As we talked, mainly the three of us – them knowing and understanding Ken’s condition, he sat nearby looking at the newspaper. The pleasant evening ended when Ken became tired and I knew it was time to go home. We said goodbye to our friends and left. There was nothing unusual about the evening.


The next morning I answered the phone to find our friend, Les, on the line. “Did Ken happen to take my coupon home by mistake when you left.” I knew it would be useless to ask Ken who would remember nothing about the previous day so I began looking on tables, nightstands and finally in the pocket of his shirt. “Guilty.” As I rummaged through what appeared just throw-away junk from the mail I found the coupon.

Sorry,” I apologized picking up the phone. “I’ll put it in the mail today. I am so embarrassed that he took it. I guess he thought it was his mail as he looked it over while we were talking.”

Les assured me that he understood about Ken’s illness, but that really didn’t make me feel better. I found myself wary about taking him to the homes of other friends. What else might “Light-fingers Louie” find that he may have thought was his, or even in a store. I know he wouldn’t serve time, and I’m certain that with the general knowledge of Alzheimer’s and other dementias, no one would call the police. Still, when we were shopping or visiting I watched him even more closely than before.

What a terrible disease.

Originally posted 2016-12-04 04:56:22.

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