Thanks to some popular television shows, hoarding disorder has become a thing of fascination and, in some cases, ridicule. Yet, it’s a common disorder that often gets worse in old age. It is also a common behavior in people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Being a family caregiver to a parent who hoards isn’t easy but understanding the disorder could help you to cope with it.
What is Hoarding Disorder?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them.” People who hoard feel anxious just at the thought of having to discard items. They just keep accumulating things whether they have value or not and regardless of not having space for them.
Hoarding often results in every surface of a home being covered with stuff. Items are stacked up on countertops, the stove, and the furniture. There may only be narrow walkways to get through the house. When they run out of room in the house, a hoarder may start storing stuff in the garage, their car, and the yard.
Treating hoarding disorder is often a challenge because the person doesn’t see anything wrong with what they are doing. As a result, they may be resistant to receiving treatment. However, intensive treatment can eventually help to change their thinking and the behavior that goes with it.
What Are the Symptoms?
Symptoms of hoarding often first appear when a person is young, in their teens or early adult years. The disorder tends to worsen as the person ages.
Symptoms of hoarding include:
- Collecting large numbers of things that aren’t needed or for which there is no space.
- Trouble parting with things no matter what their value.
- Feeling like they need to save things and anxiety upon considering discarding items.
- Clutter that makes rooms unusable.
- Tending to be a perfectionist, indecisive, or a procrastinator.
- Trouble planning and organizing things.
How Can Caregivers Cope?
It’s common for caregivers to want to go into a hoarder’s house and simply clean it out. However, experts say that can be more harmful than helpful. Hoarding disorder is a condition that you cannot cure by throwing stuff away. Doing so can be a traumatic experience for them and make them reluctant to leave their home for fear someone will come in and get rid of their possessions. Treatment is the best option. Talk to a doctor or mental health professional about the situation and how they can help.
If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring professional Home Care Services in Dothan, AL, call and talk to the staff at Lipford Home Care (205) 623-5700.
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