Hoarding is an issue that has only recently come into public consciousness, mostly due to TV shows sensationalizing the lives and homes of those suffering from it. It is a real, and serious issue, and one that frequently affects aging people, making it a point of concern for those caring for their elderly relatives and loved ones. Not only does hoarding cause significant mental duress related to the possessions in the hoard, it poses a major health and safety risk as well.
It is estimated that between two and five percent of the population have a problem with hoarding. Hoarding is a disorder marked by a marked difficulty in “letting go” of possessions. There is also difficulty in organizing or keeping belongings clean, meaning that many hoarder spaces become dangerously cluttered and packed full of stuff, and also particularly dirty or squalid.
Originally, hoarding was classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder, but further study has ruled that out. It is now more understood as an anxiety disorder, with a number of risk factors making it more likely.
- Being over age 60
- Experiencing a recent trauma or loss, such as death of a loved one
- Social isolation
- ADHD or Anxiety
By addressing the root causes of hoarding, it can be dealt with compassionately and allow your elder adult suffering to heal. Many people experiencing significant issues with hoarding are resistant to making any changes, necessitating the involvement of medical, mental health, or hoarding specialists to make progress. But if your loved one is open to working with you to declutter and clean the home, working compassionately and methodically is the best bet.