5 Warning Signs of Hoarding Habits in Aging Adults

By Richard Hemmi, 9:00 am on

Even though many people start developing their hoarding habits as teenagers and young adults, some of the symptoms might not become apparent until later in life. Once seniors live alone and their professional responsibilities fade, they can lose control over their compulsive actions. Catching the early warning signs of hoarding can help family members and caregivers come up with comprehensive plans to help their aging loved ones. 

1. A Strong Urge to Save Meaningless Items

The most obvious sign of hoarding is having a difficult time throwing items away when they are no longer needed. Your loved one might start keeping stacks of old newspapers or collecting food containers. If you suspect your loved one is starting to hoard, suggest tidying up the house instead of simply tossing out the old items he or she isn’t using. 

Some seniors may need assistance with daily activities and house cleaning. The home care services Cleveland West, Ohio, seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time.

2. Difficulty Letting Go of Personal Possessions

Many seniors enjoy going through old personal possessions, but there may come a point when their actions seem compulsive. In addition to hoarding useless items like past newspapers, they might want to keep old clothing that no longer fits. Seniors who aren’t comfortable throwing items away or selling them might consider handing them down to family members or friends. 

3. Distress at the Thought of Getting Rid of Items

After a family member or friend brings up the idea of getting rid of some items, many hoarders will immediately become defensive. When this happens, take a step back to prevent the situation from escalating. Aggressively approaching the problem could make the individual more defensive. 

4. An Unsanitary Living Space

Caregivers should consider seeking professional help for their loved ones once the living area is no longer sanitary and there are immediate health risks. Unsanitary conditions are dangerous, and they could also result in huge city fines due to pest infestations or danger to pets. Many towns have hoarding task forces sponsored by local health agencies that will step in and order a cleanup. While this might distress your loved one, his or her physical safety should be your primary concern. Your loved one might also benefit from having a professional caregiver around to keep his or her house organized.

For many seniors in Cleveland West, OH, live-in care is an essential component of aging in place safely and comfortably. However, it’s important for them to have caregivers they can trust and rely on. At Home Care Assistance, we extensively screen all of our live-in and 24-hour caregivers and only hire those who have experience in the senior home care industry. Our strict requirements ensure seniors can remain in the comfort of home with a reduced risk of injury or serious illness.

5. Other Compulsive Behaviors

Hoarding can be a symptom of other mental health disorders that lead to compulsive behaviors. This includes a fear of going outside or the refusal to eat anything but one specific meal. As soon as you notice any other unusual behaviors, contact a mental health specialist. Hoarding therapists often host weekly support groups and counseling sessions to help uncover the underlying causes.

The longer hoarding continues, the harder it becomes to stop, so don’t wait to reach out for help. Caring for a senior loved one can be rewarding, but it can also be overwhelming for family caregivers who have other responsibilities they need to focus on. For these families, the perfect solution is respite care. Cleveland West families rely on our caregivers whenever they need time to rest, work, run errands, and even go on vacation. Call Home Care Assistance at (440) 455-4031 to create a customized care plan and help your loved one lead a healthier and happier life.