Yes, literally stealing.
I often see comments on forums, Facebook, and other such online caregiver gatherings along the lines of "Dementia/Alzheimer's is stealing my (insert loved one's name) from me!" I don't much cotton to that line of thought. I mean, our loved ones are going to die from something, so I think Death is actually doing the stealing as opposed to any one disease. And as Death is inevitable, is it really stealing? Or just Death giving some people a considerate heads up...
"Time to get ready to go and FYI, your dementia journey is gonna last a little bit longer than others who get hit by a bus. On the upside, more time to hug and love your family, plan your exit strategy, and wrap up your affairs!"
But I never see anyone comment on actual stealing. Is our mother the only one who's suddenly developed a five-finger-discount habit? While it's not an everyday occurrence, it's also not unusual after a bout of grocery shopping to see her munching on a candy bar you know did not get paid for. Or to see Mom pocket something she fancies while out and about to which you immediately retrieve and return to its rightful owner or place. I don't believe it's intentional thievery, it's more like her brain dumped that pesky "Thou shall not steal" suggestion a while ago, along with the vexing custom of knowing your daughter's names, or the irksome societal requirement that you should put on pants before strolling out of the house.
And then other times it's a definite act of petty larceny.
Last night, The Other Girl took Mom out to sushi. My sister, while herself a chopstick aficionado, knew to request a fork to accompany Mom's meal. There must of been something mighty special about that little flatware apparatus the waiter brought to my mother; by the end of the meal Mom had prepped her crime by wrapping it up in her nothing-to-see-here-sir napkin stash (an unwanted, but standard, "to-go" item from every restaurant, like the toilet paper stash "to-go" item from every toilet stall). While Mom protested, The Other Girl managed to extract the hefty napkin wad from her aged, claw-like grasp, and place the fork back on the table as they got up to leave. As crafty as Mom can be, she wasn't sly enough the second time she retrieved the fork; The Other Girl saw her picking it back up as she shuffled by. The Other Girl scolded, and asked for the fork. Mom would not release it, concluding her arguments in a low whisper, with the most menacing threat she could construct "You just get out of here!" Seeing Mom's determination, and fearing more of a ruckus to come than the elderly-woman-steals-silverware scene they were currently presenting, my sister gave up. Her only recourse was to offer an apology on the way out.
"I'm sorry. My mother is stealing your fork and there's nothing I can do about it," she told the wait staff as she hustled Mom out the door.
You might be saying to yourself right now, "Well, that must of been some fork to garner all that hullabaloo!" And you would be...
Yes, Mother was ready to stab her own daughter to remain in possession of a cheap piece of dull, dirty, hammered out chromium.
It's not fair that dementia has given us this newly developed criminal streak in Mom. I mean, that part's fine, but now she lacks the ability to hone her skills and take it to the next level to get us something really good, like a new 4k television (if only we could make oversized trench coats less confusing), or a 2018 Lamborghini (hot wiring - waaayy too complex).
I guess we'll just have to settle for crappy flatware and check-stand candy bars.