Your Elderly Mom is Hoarding. What Do You Do?
Caring for an elderly parent is never easy, and you may face challenges you did not expect to face. Elderly loved ones may hoard or cherish things that belong in the trash. However, you can’t just go through your seniors home and start throwing things away. Hoarding is a disorder characterized by excessive accumulation of items, often considered to be of little or no value, and difficulty in discarding these items, even if they are no longer of use or have no sentimental value. And believe it or not, this is a real disorder and needs to be handled with care.
Home care assistance may not want to help your parents when their living situations are too dangerous. It can put the caregivers in a dangerous situation and impact how well home care assistance gives professional care. So, before you have anyone else in the house, it is crucial to go through the house with your senior and eliminate anything unnecessary. However, this isn’t always so simple, so here are some tips to help you start.
Understand the Why?
There are so many reasons why a senior would hoard things, and some of them may surprise you. Understanding what your loved one holds value to them can help you go through their stuff easier than if you don’t understand the why. Some things may provide a senior a sense of comfort and security that other things do not give them. Also, hoarding can be a way to cope with the signs of aging because it provides them with some form of control.
Can Hoarding Be Medically Treated?
When you think of treatments, you automatically assume a doctor needs to diagnose your mom or dad, and then they get medication. That may not be fully true. A senior can go to a doctor, and the underlying condition may be treated to help the hoarding indirectly. However, there is no magical cure for physical things, which is something you should keep in mind. They also may need to see a therapist on top of a doctor to figure out any mental illnesses and to work on them for mental health.
How to Help a Hoarder?
The first thing you need to do is sit and talk to them. When you understand what they are and are unwilling to give up, you can create a plan. Explain that you’d first like to get rid of the trash they don’t need and let the senior help you! This is their house, and they should always get the final say. You may be surprised that a lot of the trash is still there because a senior didn’t have the means or any way to get rid of the stuff they held onto.
Always keep your seniors involved with the plan. For example, if they have a box of stuffed animals, encourage them to donate or even give to the dementia ward in a hospital! Finding ways to offload stuff in a meaningful way will help your senior feel good about getting rid of the stuff. But remember you should be listening to all of their feelings as the plan progresses.