5 Ways to Help Aging Adults Who Are Hoarders

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Hoarding leads to unsafe living conditions for seniors who eventually find their homes cluttered. While there’s no easy answer for ending the hoarding behaviour, you can use the following strategies to help your aging loved one maintain a safe and hygienic living environment.

1. Educate Yourself about Hoarding

Families are often confused about what makes a person hoard, which is a common cause of frustration. Your loved one may claim he or she needs certain items or that he or she is holding on to them just in case. Doing some research about the condition may help you see how hoarding behaviours are difficult to control. 

Hoarding tends to be more common in people with dementia and other cognitive disorders. Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Edmonton families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.

2. Approach the Situation with Compassion

People who hoard are often visibly shaken by the prospect of needing to get rid of some of their things. When you talk to your loved one, try taking the approach that you’re simply afraid for his or her safety. For instance, you can tell your loved one that emergency responders might not be able to walk down the hallway if a rescue is necessary. As you talk, avoid calling your loved one’s belongings trash or any other words with negative connotations. Positive language is more likely to generate the responses you desire.

3. Suggest Starting with Small Tasks

Your loved one may know that he or she needs to clean up but has no idea where to start. Have a few suggestions for ways to begin the cleaning process. For instance, your loved one could simply clear off the top of the kitchen table or remove outdated mail from the desk. Starting with some items that mean less to your loved one may help him or her get used to the process of throwing things out.

4. Make Plans for Tougher Cleanouts

There are times when a senior’s hoarding is so out of control that serious action must be taken immediately. For instance, your family may need to clean hazardous materials from the house to prevent a fire, or your loved one may be at risk for getting seriously injured when trying to walk from one side of the house to the other. 

While you might not be able to give your loved one a choice about the cleanout, you can involve him or her in decisions about how it’s done. For instance, ask your loved one if he or she would rather spend the day away from home with a caregiver so as not to physically witness the belongings being removed from the home. 

Home care service experts are available to provide high-quality care to seniors on an as-needed basis. From assistance with mobility and exercise to providing transportation to the doctor’s office and social events, there are a variety of ways professional caregivers can help your aging loved one continue to live independently.

5. Celebrate Victories

The instinct to hoard is extremely strong for some seniors. Always respect the strength and determination your loved one demonstrates when working on reducing the hoarding behaviour. Whether your loved one manages to throw one piece of paper away or cleans out the entire garage, make sure to celebrate the efforts. Making positive associations with cleaning up may help your loved one continue to make progress in the battle against hoarding. 

Seniors who hoard may be living with age-related illnesses that make it difficult to perform the tasks of daily living. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior home care. Edmonton Home Care Assistance provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives. If you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (780) 490-7337.


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