There are so many different types of behaviors to deal with when you are the caregiver of someone who has Alzheimer's that it's sometimes best to just try and prepare for one at a time. Hiding and rummaging is one of the set of behaviors that those involved with Alzheimer's care can expect. Here you can learn some of the reasons why this happens as well as some steps you can take to deal with it.
Understand Their Reality
As you navigate the world of having a loved one who has Alzheimer's, it can be mentally beneficial for you to gain some understanding of why they do some of the things they do. In the case of rummaging and hiding things, the problem is often delusions or hallucinations, two issues common to people who experience Alzheimer's. You may see some of this when your loved one accuses you of things you would never do. Their delusions can cause them to live in a reality that is completely different from the real world. Hallucinations may cause their delusions to become even more of a reality for them. These issues cause your loved one to become suspicious and leery.
Limit the Environment
Although the environment is not the true cause of the delusions and hallucinations, it can help to limit the elements in the environment. Too much stimulation can cause confusion. Keep things simple so that their world is easier for them to understand. For example, limit the items in the medicine cabinet to things that are safe for personal hygiene use alone. That means it's okay to leave the toothbrush and toothpaste in the cabinet, but put away the razors and medications because they can be dangerous. In some cases, the patient will even believe that one item is actually something different than what it is. You don't want your grandmother hiding her medication because she believes it to be part of her valuable coin collection, as might be the case with a patient who previously collected coins by saving them in pill bottles.
There is no need to actually get rid of important or hazardous items, but it might be prudent to keep them locked up when you are involved with Alzheimer's care. Your loved one may think they lost something and start to rummage through drawers, closets, and cabinets trying to find it. If you can find the item she is looking for, show it to her, but expect more rummaging in the future and plan for keeping her safe as she rummages.
The main thing to remember when you are involved with Alzheimer's care is that safety comes first. The behaviors are going to get more extreme, so it's best if you have help in the form of a caregiver who can give you a break and who has some experience dealing with Alzheimer's patients.