Compulsive Hoarding Complicates Senior Living Transitions

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 31 August 2011

Across the nation, there are approximately 2 million people struggling with a compulsive hoarding disorder, according to a post from About.com’s senior living guide, Sharon O’Brien.

Defined simply by the Mayo Clinic as the “excessive collection of items, along with the inability to discard them”, this complex disorder is often closely linked to depression, both as an impetus to hoarding and a direct effect of it.

Compulsive hoarding by and large leads to extremely unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the home. Seniors in fragile health are especially vulnerable: as falls are a leading cause of injury and death for older adults, and extreme clutter in the house greatly increases that risk.

O’Brien shares that although there is no cure for hoarding, several treatments may alleviate some of the symptoms.

Families preparing to assist a loved one with a senior care transition may be overwhelmed by the process if they know/find out that the relative or friend is a hoarder. As a move to home care, hospice, assisted living or any other new housing arrangement is already a major change in and of itself, having to downsize and consolidate possessions further complicates the experience for an individual who suffers from compulsive hoarding (and for the family/friends supporting them through it).

If you or someone you know is facing this challenging situation, consider/suggest working with a senior move manager (SMM). To learn more about SMMs or to search for a professional in your area, visit NASMM.com.

There are 2 Comments about this post

  1. TRM says,

    okay… already made all the mistakes. My parents just moved to assisted living. Mom is a hoarder. By the time they moved, it was not a choice. Now she wants ALL her stuff. Obviously that can’t happen. It also can’t stay in the house as it will need to be sold. She doesn’t forget things. She’s not rational, but she doesn’t forget. Do I donate clothes and get rid of things without telling her? I feel like I’m trying to take a jewel out from under a sleeping dragon!


    on 11 October 2014 / 4:30 PM

  2. Overwhelmed says,

    Forced to live in the wake of a hoarder and suffer the consequences of their lifestyle is a nightmare. So overwhelmed and inundated with their “stuff” , my life is hell . The piles, boxes and bins never end ! I cannot believe they left all this for me to deal with by myself. Their problem is now my problem. The stress has wrecked my life, ruined relationships and affected my health. I am so angry and bitter.


    on 23 December 2014 / 7:27 AM


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