Seniors and Hoarding
When an elderly parent is exhibiting hoarding behaviors due to Alzheimer’s or dementia, here are some techniques that you can try to manage the hoarding.
Be Kind and Gentle—Don’t use harsh language or tone of voice, and try to be patient. Remember, your loved one is not doing any of this on purpose, but is only reacting to the decreased functionality of the brain.
When appropriate, you can try to reason and even talk about items to throw out and give away. With help from the family, if your loved one is still at a stage in the disease where he or she can make that connection through reasoning, they may be able to give up much of what they have collected.
Provide Interesting Activities—AlzOnline suggests that, due to frontal lobe deficits, your loved one may need more intensive, interesting and distracting activities to help curb the hoarding habit, such as organizing a drawer, helping you label old photographs, etc. The time you spend with a loved one will also create good memories for you, which will help sustain you as you make the journey together.
Memory Box Technique—One technique that has proven successful is creating a memory box, a special place to keep “special things.” Pick out and decorate the box together and put it in the same place all the time. If your loved one likes to collect bread ties, for instance, they can keep them in the box and you’ll be able to periodically “police” the box as those bread ties accumulate. Important items such as eyeglasses, wallets, etc. can be labeled and put in the box for safekeeping, and as place to know where things are. When your loved comes to you looking for that item, you can help them by saying, “Why don’t you take a look in your box?”