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10 Reasons for Senior Hoarding – How a Caregiver Can Help

senior hoardingSenior hoarding seems to be have been around for a very long time. Recently, we hear more about this in the news, however.  There are stories of folks being buried alive under their newspapers or firefighters unable to enter a home due to the passages being blocked by piles of different items.  The underlying factors in hoarding may be complicated.  The first step in dealing with this issue is to determine the reason that someone is hoarding.

 Vickie Dellaquila, certified professional organizer and author of Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash, has identified 10 reasons that seniors are reluctant to get rid of their ‘stuff’ along with some quick suggestions on how we can help.(2)

  1. The Sentimental Attachment 
    The beloved prom dress represents the history and memories of the event; it's not the dress itself. Save only a piece of the dress to make a quilt or display in a shadow box. Scrapbooking and converting photos to DVDs are other ways to save treasured keepsakes without all the extra mess.
  2. The Sense of Loyalty
    Older adults who've received gifts from family and friends may be reluctant to part with them. Encourage your loved one to give unused gifts back to the giver or grandchildren.
  3. The Need to Conserve
    Seniors are the original green people. Appeal to a senior's desire to help others. Counter a senior's inclination to conserve by appealing to their desire to give back.
  4. The Fatigue 
    A home with a lifetime of memories can easily become too much for an older adult to handle. Help seniors manage clutter by establishing online bill paying. Also, get your senior off junk mail lists, which can put them at risk for identity theft, and buy them a shredder.
  5. The Change In Health
    Seniors who have suffered a brain trauma or stroke, who are wheelchair bound or who are experiencing dementia may no longer be able to manage household duties, which could contribute to clutter.
  6. The Fear
    Seniors often fear what will happen if they give up their stuff, like the older adult who saved three generations of bank statements. Use logic and information to help seniors understand it's O.K. to let go.
  7. The Dream of the Future
    Those clothes in the closet don't fit anymore, but your loved one is sure that some day she'll lose enough weight to get into them. 
  8. The Love of Shopping
    Today's seniors have more money than any other previous generation of older adults and they love to shop. Clutter can become so bad seniors can't find things and they repurchase items they already have, contributing to the clutter cycle. 
  9. The History And Memories
    Keepsakes represent history and memories. Encourage seniors to take old photos to a family reunion and share with several generations. Let seniors know they can contribute to the history of their time and leave a lasting legacy by donating to museums and historical societies, a theater and library, or churches and synagogues.
  10. The Loneliness
    Stuff can become a misplaced companion. Loneliness may also lead to depression, which makes it difficult for seniors to get organized. Consider the services of a professional organizer and caregiver

 David Lawrence, CEO of Family Resource Home Care points out: “Family members are often challenged to keep up with the daily needs of their own lives, let alone those of an aging loved one. But when that loved one also develops a hoarding problem, the situation can quickly spiral out of control.  Attempts to remove items from a hoarder’s home are typically met with resistance and fear. Most families will need to turn to mental health experts to address the problem and help the senior into a safer living situation. But there are also ways that families can avoid a small problem from growing quickly out of hand.” (1)

 Remember to respect your parent or senior loved one, first and foremost.  If the senior's safety is not impaired then it may not be worth pressing the issue.  Always stay calm while discussing the hoarding issues

Ezra Home Care staff in includes a team of psychiatric nurses and specially trained caregivers that work together with the resident to help them with their current situation. Our staff can assist and help residents who hoard to overcome psychological barriers, stop acquisitions and to clean out cluttered living space  Our professional team will work together both with the resident, the family and community agencies to develop and execute a plan of care to attain a goal of a clutter free living space while addressing any existing psychological issues.  

Hiring a trained homecare caregiver from a licensed homecare agency will provide families with regular monitoring of their loved one. If a hoarding problem exists or begins to develop, caregivers will help with such simple tasks as sorting through mail and newspapers, organizing photos and keeping the kitchen and bathrooms clean and organized.  A good caregiver is a simple preventative to a potentially dangerous problem.

If you are unsure if you elderly loved one is safe at home, contact us for a free in-home assessment.   Visit our Services webpage to learn more about our home care services.  Read more...



American Companion Care

Founded in 2008, Ezra Home Care offers live-in home care, 24-hour care, and hourly senior care.
All our caregivers are state-certified and provide services like personal carehousekeepingcompanionship, help with medication, and transportation assistance. We've spent 15 years refining our caregiver selection process to ensure families' peace of mind. Reach out for details and quotes.

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