Could Mom or Dad have a Hoarding Problem?

Posted: 3/25/2019 8:00 AM by Interim HealthCare
During a conference on aging, the San Francisco Center for Elderly Suicide Prevention and Grief Related Services discussed hoarding issues among seniors. Specifically, he observed that many hoarding issues start in the early teen years. If they are not corrected, the evolution of minor hoarding issues as teens increases until adulthood.

Once hoarders reach their senior years, their hoarding compulsion increases the risk of isolation and loneliness, also the risk of falling and injury.

Identifying and addressing signs of hoarding is essential.

Recognizing the signs of a hoarding issue isn't always easy. Some of the signs are hard to catch. Seniors who grew up in the Great Depression may hang on to things longer than necessary due to those foundational years of struggle. It can be easy to write off keeping items long past their use (or of no use at all) as a "quirk" of growing up in those trying times. 

But when a few things here and there turns into piles and piles of things, overflowing drawers, stuffed dressers, and "stuff" in every corner, it is quite possibly the sign of an issue.

Real-world hoarding stories

Following are real-life stories of hoarding that can help illuminate how this issue manifests itself, and how you might be able to recognize potential issues in your senior loved ones:

One elderly woman saved every packet of soy sauce, duck sauce, ketchup, salt, pepper, or mustard she got from takeout restaurants. Her family found that she had dozens of storage bags and containers full of these packets. She had far more than she'd ever use, but she continued to collect them.

In Wales, one woman survived after newspapers and other garbage collapsed on top of her in the home she shared with her elderly mom. Her mom's body was found in another area of the home.

An elderly hoarder in San Diego was found dead in her home. When her son returned for the first time in almost two decades, he was shocked to find piles of books, magazines, clothes, and newspapers covering almost every inch of space in the house. Clearing all of it out took months of work.

What should you do if you believe your Mom or Dad is suffering from a hoarding issue?

Many experts believe hoarding is a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Hoarding is a mental illness and is not easily cured. Telling Mom or Dad to stop buying and collecting items is very unlikely to change the situation.

Even if you clean out the clutter on your own, Mom or Dad is likely to start collecting all over again.
Finding a true solution will require assistance to determine what is triggering the hoarding behavior. You'll need to get to the reasons why she's hoarding.

Sometimes, hoarding can happen after a brain injury. It can also be a manifestation of depression. This could triggered by loneliness, and could possibly be alleviated by more social activity. Chronic health conditions can also trigger a depression. Therapeutic treatments are essential if depression is involved.

These potential causes or triggers are merely the tip of the iceberg. If Mom or Dad is exhibiting signs and behaviors of hoarding, it's best to talk to a doctor and ensure your loved one receives a medical evaluation and ultimately, treatment. 

Senior home care services can help you identify and mitigate hoarding issues

Regular caregiver visits can help stave off loneliness, identify potential behaviors that indicate hoarding and provide critical medical and personal care. Senior home care services are an excellent way to augment treatment from a doctor, as well as your family caregiving. Visit our website to find your local Interim HealthCare location and discuss home care options for your loved one.