Help Your Senior Loved One Address Hoarding

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senior care in Waukesha WI
Hoarding can create safety issues for older adults.

Do you know of a senior loved one who struggles with hoarding? Is this situation getting more and more challenging to manage? Are you concerned about his or her safety?

Pathological or compulsive hoarding, formally referred to as disposophobia, is a great deal more than simply accumulating or living with clutter. It is the extreme collecting of items, whether or not these objects have any value or use. The thought of giving away or discarding any of these items, even trash, contributes to extreme stress.

Stowell Associates, the experts in care management and senior care in Waukesha, WI, recognizes that elderly hoarding results in a number of problems. An overabundance of objects in a senior’s living space may cause issues with hygiene – both in the house itself along with personal hygiene if cleaning facilities are obstructed. Severe clutter can result in social isolation, as a result of the person’s shame in regards to the state of the house along with his or her lack of ability to clean up adequately to go out. Additionally, the clutter may also be a significant safety hazard. Clutter may result in falls, damage home foundations, and block exits in the case of an emergency.

Assisting someone who has problems with elderly hoarding may be difficult. People who hoard attach an exaggerated amount of value to their belongings, regardless of how worthless they might appear to other people. Removing or disposing of anything can be tremendously painful.

If you have a senior loved one who you think is struggling with elderly hoarding, these suggestions can help get things under control:

Do not judge your senior loved one. While it may be challenging, if your senior loved one does not feel judged, she or he might be more inclined to work with you. Refrain from statements such as “This is a mess!” or “How do you possibly live like this?”

Choose encouraging language. If you notice progress of any kind, regardless of how small, such as a path from one room to another which is wider than it had been previously, compliment the senior on attempting to make things less dangerous. Should you notice a garbage bag with trash to go out, let your senior loved one know that this is excellent progress. Anytime there is an opportunity to compliment, do so: “I can’t imagine how difficult it was to fill that trash bag. I’m so pleased you were able to do that.” You can even comment on the nice things in the house, such as a nice painting, or a unique decoration.

Do not argue. Seniors who hoard have their explanations, and arguing commonly leads to them shutting down the conversation. You do not need to agree with what your senior loved one says, but by arguing, she or he may possibly have the need to become defensive, moving further away from a resolution. If an argument is under way, it may be time to go for a walk around the block or call it a day.

Recognize that some things are just too important for your senior loved one to part with. When cleaning up a house, it is critical to keep in mind that not every single thing needs to go. Most of us have particular possessions that are significant to us. Acknowledge and accept this.

Stowell Associates, the leaders in senior care in Waukesha, WI, know firsthand what hoarding can do, and our knowledgeable care managers understand how to help. As Wisconsin’s leader in care management and home care, we provide in-home services that include friendly companionship to help seniors feel accepted and socially involved. Contact us at 414.963.2600 in Milwaukee, and at 262.521.3016 in Waukesha for a professional assessment and to learn more about how we can help your senior loved one.

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