Older Adults and Hoarding: A Dangerous Mix

Many older adults live in homes that are filled with furniture, décor, mementos, keepsakes and various other belongings that have accumulated over a lifetime. These items can describe a life richly lived and bring great joy in the memories they evoke. Canadians are living longer than ever before and that means more time to accumulate possessions. For some elderly Canadians, however, the pieces accumulated represent a problem instead of a treasure. When items are amassed compulsively instead of deliberately, the collection could represent hoarding instead.

Hoarding is increasingly becoming an issue with older adults, whose homes become filled with excessive quantities of objects that are not put into use or do not serve a discernable purpose. Elderly Canadians may become overly attached to these objects, even though they are, for the most part, useless. And hoarding can strike anybody: it isn’t limited by age, race or gender and so can become a problem with zero regards to demographics.

Hoarding is more than a psychological issue, as well, although the compulsive and obsessive nature of hoarding is of enormous concern. The impact of hoarding on older adults can be enormous and can be linked with other issues including compulsive spending and buying. A house that is filled with a person’s hoard can be very dangerous to live within. When mass quantities of possessions accumulate, bacteria and germs can also be found hiding between piles of object. These can induce illnesses or fill the air with particles that cause difficulty in breathing when inhaled.

Additionally, large piles of hoarded objects can become physically threatening when they topple over or cause other items to drop like a giant game of dominoes. When this happens, elderly individuals may become trapped in certain rooms of their home, unable to clear a path to go into other areas. Some hoards may be composed of objects that elderly residents were able to move when they were younger and stronger but can no longer manage due to their current age and physical abilities.

Addressing hoarding issues can be difficult as adults must first be matched with psychological counseling to reach the root causes of their hoarding compulsion. Then, working with family and family, Toronto junk removal resources can engage and begin the process of restoring a home to a more livable standard. The work doesn’t end there, though. After a hoard is removed, further counseling is necessary to ensure it doesn’t return.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.