I hide my purse because I’m worried it will be stolen. Then I can’t find it. How do I keep my belongings safe?
Dearie: I’ve had the same problem. It’s not that I’m so worried about my purse being stolen — who’s going to steal an old lady’s purse? It’s more that I’m too tired or my hands are full with groceries when I get back to the house, and I just drop everything. It’s such a pain to keep everything organized!
Barbara: But is it really worth the upset and anxiety you feel later when you can’t find what you need?
Dearie: I know I should know better. But here’s the other thing: sometimes when I can’t find something, I think I might be losing my mind! Does this lady maybe have memory problems? Everyone talks and worries about that these days.
Barbara: I have a few suggestions. First, make a regular special place for important items: your keys, your phone, your money. Always put them back. And by the way, Mama, how about using only one purse? You’ve got a lot of different bags. Maybe you only need one pocketbook these days.
Dearie: It’s so hard to give up everything. I like having more than one purse. It makes me feel good—like I’m stepping out and getting dressed for the occasion.
Barbara: But Mama, part of getting older is recognizing that life and choices may need to be simpler. Wouldn’t you rather have the energy to go to an activity or visit with a friend than getting confused looking for your wallet? Is it really worth the effort?
Dearie: I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s hard to change. But about this lady: does she really need to be worried about somebody stealing her purse?
Barbara: Are you asking if fear — paranoia — is part of dementia? That’s not easy to answer. Paranoia can come from being anxious about any number of things. It depends how realistic the fear is. You are very afraid of falling, that’s realistic. Being in a public space and having someone grab your purse may be realistic. But hiding your purse in your house is probably not going to happen.