When a senior you love needs home care services or must move to assisted living, the transition is usually not an easy one. When hoarding is an issue for that family member or friend, the process is even harder.
Hoarding is common among seniors, and not just because they’ve had more years for junk and clutter to pile up. Grief, dementia, depression, limited mobility, failing health, caregiver burnout, loneliness, loss of a sense of purpose: all of these things can easily lead to or feed already present hoarding behaviors.
Once the need for a care transition has been identified, the hoarder’s family and friends should immediately address what to do with all the stuff and the emotions behind its accumulation. For example, if the depression causing the hoarding behaviors is currently untreated, seek treatment options. If loneliness is an issue, consider companion care services.
Instead of scolding the person about the hoarding problem, talk to him/her about your concerns, and ask if you could spend time sorting through an area of the house (start small: one step at a time) together. Talk about the upcoming transition, whether based on a need to consolidate to a smaller apartment in assisted living, or to streamline the environment so the home care worker can deliver services successfully, and come up with a plan of action.