Dealing with an elderly senior who is a hoarder can be difficult.
Not only does it make it difficult for assisted living or family members to be comfortable within the home, but excessive hoarding can often cause safety hazards for the elderly.
Even if your senior is not a hoarder, clutter and mess can be unsafe and often hide both physical and psychological aspects of the senior’s life.
Here are a couple of things that may surprise you when dealing with elderly clutter.
Clutter is a chronic condition that cannot be solved by a one time clean-up day. Don’t expect your elderly parent’s home to stay clean for long if they have a habit of retaining lots of unnecessary and unneeded objects. While helping your senior to clean up is a gesture that will keep the home safe and clutter free, this does not mean that your parents will stop hoarding. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself continuously organizing and putting away your parent’s belongings because of their need to clutter up their home.
Don’t be surprised if your senior gets defensive about the mess. Often they don’t find their clutter to be disruptive to their daily life. In fact, they have built this habit into their daily life. If you suggest that you help clean up their home, don’t be surprised if they come up with a list of reasons why you shouldn’t bother or become defensive about the cleanliness of their home. Working behind your parent’s back, if this is their reaction, will create further resentment and distrust and only make them more upset. It is important to explain to your hoarding senior that excessive clutter can lead to accidents that can have severe impacts on their health. In addition to increasing fall risk, clutter allows dust to be trapped more easily creating a dusty environment and polluting the air. This can increase risk of vascular problems.
Clutter and hoarding can be a sign of your senior’s inability to live independently. Not only can clutter indicate that there is no differentiation between what is needed and what is not needed, but clutter and hoarding are often found in combination with poor diet and hygiene. It is important to take note of such activities as this can put your elderly loved one at great risk of long-term health issues. Especially if your senior has other withstanding health issues, poor nutrition and poor hygiene can make chronic diseases worse and exacerbate the rate of degradation and severity.
It is important to be aware of these unforeseen surprises that might come as a result of suggesting cleaning up the clutter in your parent’s home. Be patient and explain that the reason for cleaning is to make the home a safer environment that doesn’t put your parents at risk.