Fall River Jewish Home

How to Reduce Hoarding in Seniors

Hoarding among seniors is a far more common activity than many people realize. In fact, a Johns Hopkins study indicates that 6.2 percent of people over the age of 55 display hoarding tendencies. The problem with hoarding is that it can lead to a home that is unsafe, unsanitary, and a haven for insects and rodents – not to mention filled with hazards for falling, bacteria, mold, and fires. It also serves to solidify the social isolation that is often a catalyst for the hoarding to begin with.

These are a few steps you can take to address your parent’s hoarding habits without being confrontational.

Determine Why Your Parent is Hoarding

Hoarding is more than a reluctance to get rid of stuff out of a sense of loyalty or sentimental attachments. For some of today’s seniors, it may go back to depression era childhoods where saving everything was a necessity. For others, though, the reasons dig deeper and must be addressed before change can occur.

Work with Your Parent to Clean Things Up

Once hoarding tendencies begin to manifest, it can feel more than a little overwhelming to the parent. Cleaning up may be more than he or she can handle alone. Work with your parent to clear out the clutter in a kind and gentle manner, leaving things so that your parent can easily maintain the home.

Create a Memory Box for Special Things

Sometimes, it’s certain items your parent feels a need to hold onto. Create a memory box for those items.  Then work together to limit those items to that one box and keep them from spilling over into other areas of the home. This may require periodic culling, but will help your parent get the emotional gratification hoarding provides without allowing it to take over the home.

Visit Frequently

Frequent visits help your parent remain mindful of the need to keep the home clean and clear of clutter. Social isolation is a big problem among seniors  and frequent visits from you and other family members help to relieve the isolation and keep your parent on top of the household chores.

Provide Regular Cleaning Services

Whether it’s someone in the family coming in to clean each week or a professional cleaning service, having someone come in every week to clean will help keep hoarding problems from becoming overwhelming to your parent.

Small steps like these are important and can help your parent enjoy the benefits of a safe and clean living environment. If you are caring for a senior who has hoarding tendencies and need time to deal with the issue, consider the adult day care program or respite care at Fall River Jewish Home. Call 508-679-6172 to get a temporary break and learn more about the programs.

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