ASK DR. MINDY™
MINDY KIM-MILLER, MD, PhD
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Is it normal for someone with Alzheimer’s to go into a grocery store and try to walk out with a cart of groceries without paying for them when he is with his caretaker? When security stopped him, he said he was confused. He had money in his wallet, but I always pay for his things. Do I need to leave him home when he wants to go with me to the grocery store? HELP. Is this just the beginning of odd behavior?
The confusion, disorientation, and memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease can cause an affected person to forget to pay for items or shoplift. In your case, your loved one walked out of the store with a shopping cart. In some cases, people with Alzheimer’s may place items in their pockets then forget about them and walk out of the store, at which point they may be charged with shoplifting. Shoplifting can be one of the many challenging behaviors that can occur at times due to the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
It sounds like your loved one needs close supervision so that he does not end up with a charge for shoplifting. Do not let your loved one wander away from you, and try to make sure he does not place items in his pockets. Do not give him his own shopping cart-you and he can share a cart so that you can keep it in sight at all times. Before you leave the store, search him to make sure that he has not forgotten to pay for items.
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