Hoarding Can Be a Hazard for Your Older Loved One - Part 2

Posted by Haley Kotwicki on May 14, 2019, 8:00:00 AM

blog hoarding-1In a previous post, we discussed the clinical definition and dangers of hoarding disorder (HD). If you are unsure if your loved one has HD, the International OCD Foundation says the key feature of HD is disorganization to the point where the living spaces can no longer be used for their intended function.

Other warning signs of HD include:

  • Your loved one keeps people away from certain parts of the home (or the entire home). They may feel ashamed or try to hide the clutter.
  • Your loved one often forgets or fails to pay bills. They may lose track of the paperwork in the clutter.
  • Your loved one delays home repairs. When something breaks, they may not be able to actually access the area due to the accumulation or may want to tidy up before the repair person comes but never gets around to cleaning and cancels the appointment.

Before you decide to have a discussion with your loved one, consider their feelings about their items. The International OCD Foundation offers the following guidelines about how they may feel:

  • Happy: They have intense positive emotions when acquiring new things.
  • Guilty: They have strong negative feelings when considering decluttering.
  • Desire: They believe the items are necessities or treasures.
  • Denial: They disbelieve the clutter interferes with their life.

It may be difficult to start immediately cleaning up because of your loved one’s complex emotions. Be respectful of their feelings and bring up the topic in a compassionate manner. You may be embittered and upset by the clutter, but remember these objects are treasures to them. According to the International OCD Foundation, “An atmosphere of understanding can help with negotiations to keep certain spaces clutter-free which will help maintain family harmony.”


Clutter can be a source of major fall risks in the home. Call ComForCare Home Care today for a free fall risk assessment, which includes identification of potential home hazards. Our caregivers can provide light housekeeping such as dusting and vacuuming. These are just some of the 50 ways we can help you and your loved one live their best life possible.

Topics: Aging, Fall Prevention, Healthy Living

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