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Helping Seniors With Hoarding Behaviors

July 22 2022

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For aging seniors, the tendency to hold onto everything can sometimes lead to unhealthy behavior. If left unchecked, some elderly people can develop a hoarding habit that can bring significant anxiety and stress into their lives. 


Hoarding disorder is classified as “a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items.” 


Hoarding can develop for a number of reasons and especially impact those that are going through a difficult time due to financial problems, depression, addictive behavior, or limitations they may have. 


For aging seniors, mental decline and dementia may also play a roll in how well they can take care of their home and the objects within it. Some elderly people use hoarding to help them deal with the difficult life changes that come with aging, isolation, and loss. 


So how can loved ones help elderly people that may have developed a hoarding disorder? Keep reading to learn more.

Facing the Situation

If you know somebody that might have a hoarding disorder, it is best to confront the issue at hand. This is much better than avoiding the situation and pretending like everything is ok. You may want to have a talk with your loved one and see if they understand the gravity of their actions. 


Sometimes, having another person show that they care can trigger elderly hoarders to make a change in their life. In other situations, hoarding disorder can be more difficult to overcome due to the mental challenges that it presents. Seniors that may want to change their habits could feel stuck or confused about how they can do so. Look into working with professionals such as counselors or mental health providers that are experts in hoarding disorder treatments.

Helping Declutter 

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If your loved one is accepting of the situation and understands that things need to change, you may be able to help them declutter their home. This is important to do so as hoarding disorders can create unsafe environments for vulnerable seniors that may already have mental and physical limitations. Helping them change their habits will be challenging at the beginning and require lots of patience from those that are assisting. 


Start with baby steps and try to keep any judgment out of the situation. Make sure that the senior involved feels like they have control over what is being discarded and try to be understanding if they struggle throughout the process. Getting rid of everything that needs to be removed may take a much longer time than you originally thought. Seniors with hoarding disorder may want to take weeks or months to slowly shed the many objects they’ve been collecting over their lives.

Enlist Support 

When helping an elderly person declutter their homes, it really helps to have additional support. Don’t be afraid to ask other family members or friends to assist in the tasks that lie ahead. This can make the operation run much more smoothly while also showing the elderly loved one that lots of people care about their well being. 


If you’ve enlisted the help of professionals that have expertise in hoarding, ask them to take part of the process as well. Professionals can be valuable support in difficult moments and can help keep seniors calm as they move through this challenging process.


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As you can see, there are things that friends and family members can do to help a senior with hoarding disorder. This mental condition can create unhealthy and dangerous environments for aging adults if left unresolved. 


Fortunately, with the help of loved ones and perhaps hoarding professionals, these elderly people can get their lives back to a manageable state. Supporting seniors with a hoarding disorder can be challenging, but with lots of love and patience, remarkable changes and positivity can be the result!

For more questions about getting a loved one caregiver support, please contact us by clicking here.

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