Should I Take Mom's Wedding Rings Away? She Has Dementia

Updated on August 15, 2016
P.B. asks from Austin, TX
26 answers

My mother has dementia. She still lives by herself but my brother and I are caring for her daily. She lost her wedding rings and it took me about 4 weeks to find them. They were wrapped in Kleenex, in the drawer by the bathroom sink. She had earlier left a very thin ring with small diamonds right by the sink -- it would've been a goner but I took it.

Now that I've found them, should I keep them from her? She thinks her granddaughter stole them! There are 2 of them, one from my dad that was made into a cocktail ring + the one from my step-dad.

What would YOU do? She goes out about twice a week (to hairdresser and church), so she would enjoy wearing them. But she would no doubt lose them again. She spills nail polish all over the place; yes, I know it's time for a hired full-time caregiver but my brother is the primary caregiver/decision maker.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Loved all the good suggestions. My brother & I discussed and he suggested putting them back in her jewelry box, but in a section that won't open unless she moves the stuff on top. She has totally forgotten about them & I also returned some rings she GAVE me of her own and she is THRILLED by them. She wears different costume rings every day & is as happy as a clam.

About lucidity in a dementia patient: her big idea sometimes is to go dig up my father's grave. You can explain something to her and the next minute she asks the exact same question. No logic.

I liked the rings on a necklace idea and also letting her wear them when she goes out but she lives alone so we can't manage that. My brother IS HIRING A NURSE NEXT WEEK! YEA!!!! So, we are getting closer to the real solutions. She has not driven in 2 years + I made sure all knives are gone as well.
Blessings to all ~

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answers from Johnstown on

Put them on a necklace that she can't undo the clasp. This is what we did with my grandma because she'd lost sooo much weight due to her Alzheimer's meds. She's a happy little bug like that :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

I would give her a new fake ring to wear. If she asks about the other, I'd tell her I'm getting them cleaned/fixed. It wouldn't be worth losing!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Yes, and replace them with a costume jewelry ring. That is what they have done with my moms best friend. She is in an assisted living place and there is no way she could keep up with them.. It is not so much the caregivers they worry about but that her friend will lose them or give them away.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on


Find some costume jewlery (rings) that look similar to your mom's rings (get a few pair so it won't matter if they get lost). Yes take the real one's and keep them in a safe place.

Glad your dear mother is still getting to church and out to get a DO each week.

If you are concerned that your brother is not making the best decisions, then that is a WHOLE new issue.


6 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Let her know you are have the rings and are getting them cleaned. Say this each time she asks about the rings. No matter how many times you tell her, she will always ask again and again - and the same answer will be easily accepted.

I wanted to add - to those who are upset about the daughter taking her rings to keep them safe, but feel they are taking or stealing the Mother's rings - you've obviously never dealt with a family member WITH Alzheimer's or dementia. As a Nurse... I see this everyday, and I personally know the heartaches of close family members trying to keep THEIR sanity while helping their family member. The daughter has every right to take those rings and keep them safe - she probably knows what her Mom was to do with those rings upon her death more than you all do - and most likely had to do with keeping it in the family as a tradition or passed down heirloom.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

This is one of many decisions you and your brother will be faced with. My thoughts and prays are to you and your family. Now, the rings. Take them. She would want you to if she was in her right mind. I would also recommend buying costume rings. She may not know the difference. This is what my dad did. My mom "misplaces" the rings all the time. We will find them sometimes but not always. If we can't find them, he just goes and gets new one. It is what it is. In the meantime, her jewlery is safe.

P., this is hard. You and your brother need to support and be there for each other. If you haven't, check into the support groups in your area. They are the best source of information of home healthcare providers, facilities or just a sounding board. My mother has frontal temperal dementia. She now is unable to communicate, is in a wheelchair and doesn't know anyone. My dad put her in a facility in September. She was diagnosed November 2005. Remember, this isn't your mom anymore. This is someone who looks like your mom but isn't. I know that doesn't help but you are going to have to learn to separate the two. You are learning to deal with a complete stranger who looks like your mom. If you need anything, just send me a private message. Good luck and know that you aren't alone.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Orlando on

I am a Student Nurse and PSYCH is my specialty. I work at a Psych unit now and adore my dementia clients. Its a hard thing to deal with but sometimes you have to take a step back and put yourself in their shoes. Although elders with dementia seem like they are "crazy" their brain is still ticking, they still have emotions, and remember "wild" things, but its what keeps them going.

I wouldnt take the rings from her, neither replace them with fakies. There was one mom who stated that putting them on a necklace would help, this I agree with. Explain in simple terms the reason and let her know they will be close to her heart now.

Dementia patients are unique because they always get outcast-ed that they are loosing it... just take it all away... but this will make things worse. I see it time and time again. Children just send their parents off because they've "lost it". You'd be surprised how much they know, what they remember, and the pain they feel when this is done. Not saying this is what is going on but just trying to explain.

So speak in simple terms, explain in simpler terms, and remind, remind, remind. Sticky notes are awesome for this. Also pull out her old video tapes... Start a movie marathon of her life. Her smiles are what will keep her going.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I think that if you do that you need to write notes on the wall for her to see. You need to write something along the lines of "P. has my wedding rings". Then maybe a short note like "I asked P. to take my wedding rings to keep them safe". She is going to be calling you at all hours asking for her rings at first then eventually she will forget most of the time.

My ex mother in law had dementia and lived in a care facility for a while. She had notes above her bed that said my ex had her billfold so it would be safe. She was frantically looking for it often though. She wanted to know why he stole sometimes too.

The explanation needs to be simple and the same every time. I have your billfold so.....whatever you want the reason to be. On one hand you don't want her to feel unsafe but you don't want to make her feel bad about being careless with her belongings.

It is a sad thing to watch and I feel bad for your family. The time will come sooner than you think where she will need full time care. It will be hard to make those decisions but with careful and thoughtful consideration I am sure you and your brother will get through it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My dad had this and I'm sure sorry for you and your family. It's such a difficult time for you all. My prayers are with you all.
As for the rings, yes I would keep them safe from being lost.
Maybe you could replace them with something that wouldn't be such a loss if she did lose them. Dress them up as gifts to her. As for her thinking that her Granddaughter took them, well she will think what she will sadly.
It's always best to have a plan for the next step of care in order. It saves the family the grief of having to "go there" while it is happening. Too easy to make emotional decisions at that time when family emoticons are high.
Might want to remove or lock away knifes, scissors and fix the oven and stove top to were they will not operate when she is alone too. We had a gas stove and my husband installed a cut off valve on the back that I closed when I wasn't there.
Best Regards,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Beaumont on

I would. My Mom had Alzheimers and lost several things that were sentimental that we would have loved to have kept. Unfortunately, this is just one of many hard decisions you guys will have to make. My heart goes out to you, it is SO difficult.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

I would take them and go to an inexpensive jewerly store and get dulicates. I remember seeing BEST BUY or TJ Maxx selling cheap wedding bands. I good friend threw hers away in the trash she had dementia. It was never recovered.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Yes, please replace the rings with similar costume jewelry - you know if she were in her right mind she would want you to do that. And please consider also getting an ID bracelet for her, if you don't already have one. People with dementia can wander off and get disoriented and lost very easily. She should absolutely not be living alone, but you already know that. I'm sorry you're going through this - I've been there, done that, and I know it's so hard :(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I like the idea of putting them on a necklace for her.
You should let her know you found her rings so she doesn't continue to think someone stole them.
I have a very elderly aunt who misplaces things and unfortunately, she thinks someone stole from her. So, when someone was actually doing it, nobody wanted to believe her at first. (Which is exactly what the evil woman stealing from her was banking on).
She is always so relieved when something is found because first of all she will worry and worry about it and also, she hates the feeling that someone took something from her.
Dementia is really hard on families, but I don't believe in taking things away from people who suffer from it unless it's a danger to them. For instance, my father in law would forget what he was going down the hallway for but seriously thought he needed to drive a vehicle. We had no choice but to make sure he couldn't get his hands on car keys. In his lucid moments, he'd be really mad about it too.
That wasn't a matter of him losing something important, it was a matter of being a danger to himself and others.
I would definitely let your mom know her rings are safe though. I really would.
Maybe get her a chain to wear them on. Maybe she will be fine with you having them to keep them safe and she can wear them to church and when she goes out.
I wouldn't just take them from her, but that's just me.

Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Maybe you should get her a nice set thats costume jewelry. She might be excited about them and if she does misplace them it wont be such a big deal.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

We took them from my MIL's mother after we found some rings in the trash there is no point in risking loosing these items. She did not even ask for them back after a while but if she still "wants" them then you should get a replacement made in a cheapie version.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I once read that you should NOT make contracts with people who have dementia or alzheimer's.. because all parties will be dissapointed. example, if you tell mom, try not to lose or misplace the rings.. well.. rest assured, she probably will lose them again as it's just the nature of the disease.

Our very dear neighbor, who has dementia wanted VERY much to stay in her own home and be independent, but in the middle of the night, would leave and go out walking and lose her way.. .often, a neighbor coming home in the night, would have to bring her back to her house. Her daughter would then be called , rush over and tell her mom, mom you can't keep going out at night....... of course, mom would agree and then a few nights later, leave the house again.. the last straw was when she was found down the street in a school, she had fallen and couldn't find her house keys.. the fire department came, broke down the door and then turned out, the keys were in her pocket the whole time.. so again, it's sad, but people with dementia, depending how far a long it is, simply don't remember things... also, it's hard to be objective when you are family.... have you considered talking to a counselor who has deals with this type of disease? I think they could shed more light on the matter and let you know what is best at this stage.. as for the rings.. Can you get her different ones to wear that aren't as special? I just think if you give the rings back, she will lose them.. at this point, you kinda have to treat this like a child / parent situation.. you are the parent and your mom the child. I am not saying she can't have her dignity, of course she can.. but when it comes to some matters, keep in mind, it's the disease talking and acting not your mom... it's sad and hard to deal with, again , another reason I think an outside party who deals with this all the time might be able to assist..

I wish you the best..

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Can you replace them with costume jewelry look-alikes?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

They are HER rings, and you have no right to keep them from her.



answers from Kansas City on

Absolutely take them as well as anything else in the house, jewelry or otherwise that is valuable. Yes, she will ask about them probably but you'll have to agree on an answer with your other family members to tell her when she asks. My grandmother gave away multiple pieces of precious jewelry and other things (possibly crystal, maybe china, who knows!!) to various workmen, neighbors, who knows who! When we realized these things were missing for good we realized there was a bigger issue at stake here, so take it from me, take what you can now. I'm sorry that you are struggling with this, it is a hard road!



answers from Washington DC on

We are have the same problem with my sister. She has lost and we have found 2 expensive diamond rings. Her husband is thinking of duplicating them with CZ's as he is fearful she will throw them out.



answers from Honolulu on

Wow, well she has Dementia.
They cannot think, rationally.

I would tell her it will be kept in a safe place. So it does not get lost.
If she can rationally understand that.

Your Brother, really has to hire care-giving for her, right away.
As you said.

Dementia... often leads to the person leaving home, not knowing where they are or are going... and end up "missing".... for days, Not knowing who they are.
But you know that.



answers from Houston on

Could you possibly put them away in a safe and let your mom know "remember mom we put them in the safe"? Maybe get her a less expensive band to wear when she goes out?

I know how difficult this can be. My mom is currently dealing with these types of issues with my grandmother. Although my grandmother is in a nice assisted living facility, but she still accuses people of stealing things she misplaced. There issue is with watches and the TV remote control. (Which they hide if they leave their apartment/suite but then can't remember that they hid it. My grandfather doesn't have dementia but doesn't seem to be much help in finding lost items.

Good luck, hang in there and do the best you can!



answers from Las Vegas on

I would take them from her and tell her you put them back in the jewelry box to keep them safe. She will likely hold the grudge that her Granddaughter took them. It seems once they get some of that in their mind, they hold on to that.



answers from College Station on

I would keep them and give them to her when she goes out.


answers from Dallas on

This is a hard one. The rings are something dear to her that she can remember, but your concern for losing them is real. Can you show them to her but tell her you are afraid they will be stolen and tell her you will hide them for her? If not, I probably lean towards just keeping them.

If she is driving it's time to put an end to that. Possibly you can lose the keys to the car......



answers from Austin on

I agree with the necklace idea. Explain it to her in a lucid moment, let her know where you found them and that her granddaughter did not take them. Even if the clasp is regular, she probably cannot open it as I have trouble and I am almost 40. It is mean to take her things. They are still hers. They contain a lifetime of memories. SHe may not remember what she had for lunch today but guaranteed she remembers things from years ago. Don't take her stuff. cb

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