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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hoarding: What is it? Why do people do it?

Thanks to television, the subject of hoarding is no longer as taboo as it once was. While TV has not glamorized the issue, shows depicting hoarders have broadened our knowledge of who hoarders are…the man next door, the woman who sits next to you in church, your own mother or grandfather. We now know many hoarders have other underlying psychological problems such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), while others do not. Regardless of other issues, the effects of hoarding are complicated and far-reaching.

Hoarding can become a way of life for people of all ages, but this article is meant to help determine if a senior in your life is suffering from the condition. Hoarding at younger ages may not be as prevalent or noticeable as it is with the elderly, who have had years to acquire their things. In fact, while you might have considered your parents pack rats when you were growing up, you may not realize until years after you have moved out that they have become full-fledged hoarders.

The reasons the elderly become hoarders has not been fully determined. In fact, if there are no other underlying psychological issues, the reasons could be simple. Seniors may become attached to certain things that remind them of times past or lost loved ones. If lonely and isolated, some seniors may find comfort in collecting things the rest of us consider trash. Depression can also play a key role. The things people choose to hoard range from animals to shoes, clothes to unique toys, and even empty boxes or trash.

The results can be just as complicated as the possible causes. In extreme cases, things can be piled from floor to ceiling, throughout rooms and hallways, making safe pathways virtually impossible. Most of the time, treasures – and hoarders do treasure their things – have the potential to fall over and harm someone. Trash and forgotten food packages become lost in the mess but provide feasts for bugs and mice. If a person is an animal hoarder, you can add waste and feces to the mix.

Quality of life becomes minimal. Many hoarders will not have visitors in their home because they are embarrassed and do not want others to know their situation. Extreme hoarders have only a spot they can sit in, which may just be on the bed where they sleep. There is no room to walk, sit, or sometimes stand in their homes. Harmful impacts on health, injuries and in some cases even death can result from extreme hoarding.

Treating hoarders can become a delicate subject. If you suspect hoarding may be an issue, seek help for the senior. Thanks to the publicity, hoarders know they are not alone, which may make it easier to face the problem. Be patient and understanding but firm even if you cannot comprehend the issues. With loving support and help, your elderly loved one can find the road to a healthy recovery.

This blog was taken from the main Comfort Keepers website, to read more like it click HERE.

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