Hoarding is a behavior that affects many people around the world, follow along with us to find out how home care services can help. There is still much debate in the mental health world about what category hoarding falls into. Psychiatrist Frederick Schaerf explains that hoarding is a behavior and all behaviors have a mental state behind them. The problem with hoarding is that there is not just one mental state behind the symptoms. When the hoarder is a younger person, it is generally considered to be an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), like obsessive hand washing – only much messier. But generally, those with OCD-related hoarding recognize that their behavior is extreme and try to resist their compulsion.

However, when an elderly person hoards, Alzheimer’s or dementia is often the cause. The seniors may begin to save items because they feel confused and overwhelmed. They may fear that their memories will be lost without tangible evidence of the past. Accumulating more and more stuff can also feed a need for comfort. A senior with a history of anxiety, when faced with aging and the possibility of outliving their resources, may begin to save because they feel overwhelmed by what lies ahead. As dementia patients lose track of the present, these items become more and more important, and their homes more and more cluttered.

Challenges to Consider

Hoarding can be a challenge for family members who are often already struggling to keep up with the daily needs of their own lives, let alone those of an aging loved one. 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.

Hoarding can also have serious health implications. Piles of items in the home can create tripping hazards and increase the risk of falls, particularly in seniors. They can also contribute to respiratory problems due to the accumulation of dust and other particles. Fire hazards are also a concern, particularly if there is a significant amount of paper or other flammable materials in the home. These issues can be mitigated by a trained caregiver who can help the senior maintain a safe and healthy living environment.

How Home Care Services Can Help

Hiring a trained caregiver to provide home care services from a licensed home care provider allows families to have 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.

It is important to remember that hoarding is a complex issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Treatment may involve a combination of therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication. In some cases, a hoarder may need to undergo a deep-cleaning process to remove items from the home, followed by ongoing support to prevent the problem from recurring. A trained caregiver can also help with this process by providing emotional support and helping the senior understand the importance of maintaining a clutter-free living environment.

Hoarding is a challenging behavior that affects many people, particularly seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Hiring a trained caregiver to provide home care services can help families avoid a small problem from growing out of hand, while also mitigating the health implications of hoarding. It is important to remember that hoarding is a complex issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Treatment may involve a combination of therapies, and ongoing support is often necessary to prevent the problem from recurring. By working with mental health experts and trained caregivers, families can help their loved ones live safely

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When Clutter Becomes Chaos: Elder Hoarding