Understanding and Managing Hoarding in the Elderly

Hoarding is a delicate, psychological issue that often affects elderly individuals. Many people do not understand or know how to deal with hoarding properly. The immediate reaction is often to begin throwing out perceived junk. This, however, can upset the hoarder and exacerbate the problem. The key is to help the person who hoards understand how the problem interferes in living the life he or she desires, particularly as it pertains to being able to live independently. Some tips include:

Not Judging: People are generally not receptive to negativity, and comments like “What a mess!” or “Who lives like this?” won’t get you far.

Motivate Instead: When communicating with a hoarder, use language that reduces defensiveness and increases motivation to solve the problem, like, “I’m glad you’ve kept things out of the way to prevent slipping and falling.”

Be Attentive to Meaningful Objects: It may seem like junk to you, but it means something to them. Attention to objects with sentimental meaning or memorabilia from past experiences and life events can help you establish the trust necessary for continued work addressing a hoarding problem.

Once you’ve gotten to the root of the hoarding problem, professional organizers and geriatric care managers can provide help with de-cluttering and organizing the home. Contact Heaven at Home for more information on senior in home care in Plano or the surrounding areas, and how we can help with hoarding in the elderly.