May 09, 2014

Senior Hoarding Issues


A lifetime accumulation of possessions combined with a daily influx of junk mail, bills and newspapers can quickly overwhelm seniors who may already be struggling physically, mentally or emotionally.

Experts say that seniors are prone to cluttering for a variety of reasons, including fear of loss, anxiety, depression, not knowing how to get rid of possessions, or even memories associated with specific items that hold no intrinsic value.

And for seniors, the risks of living in clutter are many, from slipping on loose papers to the threat of fire to the health effects of mold and mildew. Clutter can also interfere with family relationships and leave adult children wondering if the only inheritance awaiting them is a big mess.

In order to identify potential trouble, below is a list for family caregivers to watch for the signs in a senior's home that indicate clutter creep could become a problem including:

  • Piles of mail and unpaid bills
  • Difficulty walking safely through a home
  • Frustration trying to organize
  • Difficulty managing activities of daily living
  • Expired food in the refrigerator
  • Jammed closets and drawers
  • Compulsive shopping
  • Difficulty deciding whether to discard items
  • A health episode such as a stroke or dementia
  • Loneliness

Family caregivers can become just as overwhelmed as seniors. Spring is a great time for family caregivers to help seniors de-clutter for their own health and well-being. We suggest a three-step plan where the family caregiver brings three bins -- one for the stuff the senior wants to keep, one for donations and the other for trash. Sometimes seniors just need a little help. Find a company in your city to help you go through a basement full of newspapers and clip the important articles that they may want to save, enabling them to throw away the bulk of the clutter.

"This will be a relief to both the senior and his children."