How Can You Help Your senior Parent Cope with Their Hoarding Behaviors?

Senior Care Princeton NJ

Senior Care Princeton NJ

It might start with a few magazines that sit on the side table for too long. Then it becomes newspapers that build up in the kitchen because your senior parent is determined that they are going to cut out the coupons. After that they might not want to throw away the plastic tubs from their yogurt or stop throwing away junk mail. Eventually every surface of their home is covered and things keep piling up.

When seen at its worst hoarding behavior is obvious, shocking, and seems like something that anyone would notice happening. When it is actually happening, however, it can occur so gradually that it does not become obvious until it is a serious problem. This is especially true if you do not visit the home for several weeks or a couple of months. Senior hoarding is a more common problem than many people think, but it can be extremely dangerous for your elderly loved one.

This condition occurs when a person starts holding onto things compulsively. They may gather items, “collect” items, or refuse to throw things away that should be thrown away. This can result in an extremely cluttered home and greatly diminished quality of life.

If your senior parent has hoarding tendencies, it is vital that you take steps to reduce the clutter and help them keep their home cleaner and more organized. Try these tips to make this process less daunting:

  • Discuss safety. Have a frank discussion with your senior parent about the health and safety risks associated with their hoard. Express your concern that the items might fall on them, that they could trip over clutter and get hurt, and that the clutter holds onto dust, dirt, bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungi in such a way that it dramatically increases their chances of getting ill.
  • Start small. The issue with hoarding is that the senior is afraid of what they would feel or experience if they should get rid of the items they have collected. Help them to gain perspective on this issue by starting small. Select one collection of items and take out a small portion of those items. Choose something to do with them, whether it is donating them to a church, school, or thrift store, throwing them away, or giving them to a family member. Wait for a couple of weeks and ask your parent how they are feeling about the situation. They are likely not to remember those items, or they will realize that it is not as serious a situation as they thought it would be.
  • Discuss control. At the core of any person’s compulsion to hoard is a need for control. If your senior parent is suffering marked cognitive challenges due to their Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, they are likely seeking the control that they feel they are losing due to their illness. Discuss this with them and encourage them to realize that by keeping their home organized and without clutter they will be better able to stay in their own home and maintain more control over their life.

If your senior parent has begun to show signs of hoarding behavior and you are concerned about their health and wellbeing, a senior care provider may be able to help. As these behaviors often stem from feelings of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, having the valuable services of a senior home care services provider in the home with them can make a tremendous difference in your parent’s health, safety, and mental and emotional wellbeing, reducing the chances of these behaviors. A senior care provider can also be a fantastic resource when you are working toward clearing out hoarded materials. By being with your parent, planning an activity, or even going on an outing, this care provider can keep your parent safely out of the way and prevent interference that might diminish the benefits of your efforts.

If you or an aging loved one are considering Senior Care in Princeton NJ, please contact the caring staff at Alpine Home Care. In PA call 888-743-0068 . In NJ call (855) 410-1404.