Is Hoarding a Problem for You or a Loved One?

This Article Is A Contribution from Freelance Writer Cassie Steele

In homes all over Ireland, there are some elderly people living in absolute squalor as they continuously hoard various items over the years. According to a report, about 25% of cases referred to the HSE’s Adult Protective Services are related to elderly hoarding, and it has become a serious health and social issue that many families are dealing with today. If you suspect that your parent or relative might have a hoarding problem, it can be a challenge to help him or her as your loved one will always try to hold on to any object for as long as he or she can. If you’re dealing with difficult feelings and have no idea what to do, fear not. There are ways to help your loved one and keep him or her safe from the repercussions of having a hoarding problem.

How to tell if your loved one has a hoarding issue

To know if your elderly loved one is just an avid collector or has a hoarding problem or Diogenes Syndrome, it’s a good idea to observe your parent or relative’s behaviour. If he or she has a huge collection of Elvis or Grace Kelly memorabilia only, then it’s highly possible that he or she just loves to collect these items. However, if your parent or relative is not being selective and keeping things that have no utilitarian or sentimental value such as old and filthy rags or used toilet paper, then it’s likely that your loved one has a hoarding problem. Here’s how to help an elderly person with a hoarding issue.

Talk to your loved one

If you feel that your parent or relative has a hoarding issue, have a talk with him and express your concern for his health and safety. Tell him that you’re willing to help him declutter, and if he’s open to it, you can enlist family and friends to declutter one room at a time. You can also hire professional organizers who have experience dealing with this type of situation.

Be patient

Your loved one may be receptive to decluttering today, but don’t expect that the problem will be solved in an instant. You need to be patient and to check your expectations when it comes to dealing with a person with a hoarding problem. Keep in mind that this is a process for your loved one and it may take months or even years before this issue is resolved.

Seek professional help

A professional may be able to get to the root of the problem that is causing your loved one’s behaviour. A counsellor or psychotherapist may help your relative address depression or other underlying issues. A doctor may also be able to offer medical care if needed.

Helping a loved one who has a hoarding problem can be a challenge, but with patience and determination, it can be done. Keep a positive attitude and try these tips to help your parent or relative deal with this serious problem.

About the Author

Cassie Steele is a professional freelance writer with a particular interest in mental health issues. Her previous career in PR for a mental health charity opened up many doors for her freelance work. When not working she enjoys cycling, traveling as much as possible and spending time with her family.