Elderly hoarding occurs when an elderly person compulsively buys and keeps objects and refuses to throw them away despite the mess they have caused in the living space. It leads to significant health and safety issues, especially for older adults who may have underlying health conditions, or who have reduced mobility because of the extreme clutter. Hoarding tends to be a private behavior, and because people who hoard usually do not think it is a problem, it can take a while for more severe symptoms to show. Thus, it is important to consider the following warning signs of elderly hoarding when interacting or visiting your loved ones.
Excessively Acquiring and Keeping Items
One symptom of elderly hoarding is the excessive saving of useless items like old newspapers, clothing, or broken objects. Some hoarders also tend to continue buying things that they do not need despite there being no space in their homes. If you notice that your loved one is keeping or buying many items that they do not have a use for, then you may need to gently ask them if they are willing to throw these things away.
Difficulty Throwing Away Objects
If your loved one refuses to throw away things that they no longer use, or are unable to decide what they should throw away, they are likely showing signs of elderly hoarding. Hoarders are unable to distinguish between what is important and what should be disposed of. Some older adults may also become distressed at the idea of having to throw things away because they have an excessive emotional attachment to these objects and view them as all valuable.
Having Too Many Pets
Hoarding is not only limited to inanimate objects. Pets can also be something that people hoard. If you find that your loved one has too many animals in their homes, or are still buying pets despite the lack of space in their homes, it can be a warning sign of elderly hoarding as well.
Disorganized and Cluttered Living Space
If your loved one’s living space is super disorganized, or if they are unable to move around normally in their house, it may be a symptom of elderly hoarding. They may also refuse your offers to help them clean up and organize their home, or repeatedly do not allow you to come over to visit because the house is too messy.
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